Murray's secret fitness weaponComment on this story
London - Few athletes enjoy discussing injuries or ailments but for Andy Murray the subject is still preferable to getting dragged into the debate on Scottish independence.
After easing his way into Saturday’s third round of the US Open he was far more comfortable talking about how he has upped his intake of salt to combat cramp than he was the future of the United Kingdom.
He swerved the referendum issue as adroitly as he did the threat of Germany’s Matthias Bachinger, who he defeated 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to set up a meeting this evening with world No 96 Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia.
Against Bachinger on a relatively cool New York evening there was no repeat of the spasms that hindered him in the first round, and in typical Murray fashion he has not left anything to chance in making sure they do not re-occur in the future.
This involves raiding the player canteen at Flushing Meadows for the dinky little packets of seasoning that most use purely to add some flavour to their pasta.
‘I have changed a few things, not so much what I’m eating but what I’m drinking. I’m making sure I have enough fluids down me and take a bit more salt to see if that helps,’ he said.
‘There are little one-gram sachets of salt in the restaurant I take. The conditions are tough and you need to make sure you are on top of everything before matches so you don’t get caught out.
‘I don’t weigh food but I weigh myself three times a day - when I get up, normally after practice, and before I go to bed. I know exactly what my weight should be in the morning and in the evening.’
Evidently that was all part of the review of what happened against in his first-round struggle against Robin Haase.
‘There were no fluctuations earlier in the week in terms of my weight. I had drunk enough in terms of quantity but maybe something was missing. I will make sure I am on top of it for the rest of the tournament.’
The soaring temperatures of the past week - which have seen several players go down with cramp - have now abated and a mild few days are expected as the 2012 champion tries to get past the Russian, who upset Spain’s formidable Fernando Verdasco in five sets.
Kuznetsov is a dangerous, flat hitter who after beating Britain’s Dan Evans at Wimbledon - a year ago today Evans came close to beating Tommy Robredo to make the last 16 here - went on to make the fourth round at SW19
To do that he also had to beat the ultra-tough David Ferrer, so he is not to be underestimated. The 23-year-old is coached by his father and in his spare time likes to drive BMWs and play the guitar.
Five years ago he won junior Wimbledon and a swift ascent was predicted but, as for so many others at that age, it did not work out that way.
‘It was pretty hard, I had some bad periods,’ he said. ‘In the beginning it seemed to be easy that I was going to go to top 100 but I lost some matches. Finally I came to top 100 two years ago, the first time, and then I came to top 100 again this year. I did a lot of work, and now I hope to stay there.
‘I can be aggressive against Andy, there is much less pressure on me than him.’
Murray looked much more comfortable against Bachinger and will not be unhappy if the conditions are windy again, as he showed that there is nobody more skilful than him when it is blowing.
Looking further ahead, expectations should not be placed too high as Novak Djokovic, his prospective quarter-final opponent, looks like he has already played himself back into form.
Equally hard to avoid is the independence issue, but again he wanted to tiptoe around the subject while being keen to emphasise that he is taking a keen interest.
Knowing all too well of the abuse he would take from either side - getting tired, old accusations of anti-Englishness on one hand or being attacked by the Cybernats on the other - he has taken the easier option and hid behind the fact that, as a long-time Surrey resident, he cannot vote anyway.
A shame in many ways, as he is an original thinker and his full view would doubtless be interesting.