the search goes on to find the root cause of Andy Murray’s mysterious bout of cramp, the one that left him lumbering around the court like Frankenstein’s monster after being plugged into the national grid, on Monday.
Cramp may be unpleasant and painful but it is not life-threatening so Murray just got on with things as he limped past Robin Haase in four sets, but he still wants to know why he should have been affected in such a way. He was well enough hydrated – his trip to the gents immediately after the match was proof of that – he had eaten a decent breakfast and he had trained well and long to be ready for the US Open. And then he got cramp.
“The priority is to try to find out what actually happened, what the reasons were for it,” he said. “It’s been suggested that maybe nervous tension can create cramp. It can, but if it’s nerves, it tends to go away. I didn’t feel particularly nervous today. I’ve been a lot more nervous before slam finals. It was weird.”
Whatever his physical condition, he ought not to be too edgy before his next round: a meeting with Matthias Bachinger, the 27-year-old German qualifier who only got into the main draw by the skin of his teeth. The two men grew up together in the junior ranks and even if they have seen little of each other in recent years, Murray being at the very top of the game and Bachinger being ranked 235, Murray knows what to expect.
“If Matthias serves well, he’s dangerous,” he said. “He’s obviously kept working on his game and managed to break through late. When guys do that, when they’ve worked hard for it, you know that when you go on the court against them they are not going to give anything to you.
“It will be a good opportunity. If he’s watched me [against Haase] I am sure he will be feeling pretty good about the match. We will see what happens.”
Bachinger has been good at making the most of his opportunities since he arrived in New York. His ranking was so low that he never imagined he would get into the qualifying competition, much less the main draw at the Open and then, out of the blue, he got the call last week to come to New York. The players immediately above him in the rankings were pulling out in droves and Bachinger was the next man on the list for qualifying.
“They called me on Monday,” Bachinger explained. “I flew here from Europe on Tuesday, I arrived in the afternoon and I played on the Wednesday. So my preparation was not very good, but from the beginning I had a very good feeling. Sometimes life is crazy.”
Three wins later, Bachinger was into the main draw and playing the tennis of his life to beat Radek Stepanek in straight sets on Monday. He had never won a match at a grand slam tournament before and yet here he was: through to play a former champion on a show court. Bachinger’s life does not get much better than this.
“I’m really looking forward to playing him,” Bachinger said. “We played each other in juniors. He’s the same age as me. When we were 14, we played each other a few times. I won one time, 7-6 in the third. It was in Italy. I’ve never forgotten that because in juniors he was really, really good. Then I think I lost to him three times. He always wanted to win, 100 per cent. He was fighting for every ball, just like he does now. You could already see that he would be a top star.
“When we were juniors we were kind of friends. Then he went up so fast and I was still in school, playing some Futures. I don’t really know him now.”
From pondering retirement earlier in the year, Bachinger is now realising his every professional dream and ambition and whatever happens against Murray, he will walk away from Flushing Meadows at least £36,500 richer. And if Murray can walk away from the match rather than hobble off in agony as he did on Monday, he, too, will be a happy man.