Andy Murray faces tough US Open test in first round amid struggles with cramp

Sport

Along with the lofty task of battling one of the best tennis players in the world, Andy Murray will also have to focus on the mundane chore of loading himself with fluids and remaining hydrated as he attempts to move on from a challenging hard‑court swing, during which he struggled badly with cramping.

Murray underwent sweat and blood tests during the past week, which both came back clear, indicating an issue with his hydration, condition or environment.

“I’ll probably try to monitor it closer when I’m playing the match and just be a bit more precise with that stuff,” Murray said. “Usually I’m pretty good with it but it’s quite a fine balance to make sure that you are getting the right fluids and stuff when you’re on court.”

Murray will start his 2022 US Open campaign on Monday against Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, the 24th seed. Ten years on from his first grand slam triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2012, Murray looked back on the breakthrough as a “huge moment” in his career. He had arrived in the final against Novak Djokovic having lost all four of his previous grand slam finals, doubts swirling in his head.

“At the time, that was a huge moment for me,” he said. “I’d been put under a lot of pressure to try and achieve that.

“A lot of what I’d achieved in my career up to that point it felt, to me anyway, kind of irrelevant because of the questions I’d continued to get asked about winning slams. Am I good enough? Am I fit enough? And am I mentally strong enough?”

After his victory and his media rounds, Murray returned to the silent, empty court as he processed his success. “I was very proud of myself, I felt very relaxed in that moment. I didn’t feel like going wild and celebrating and that sort of stuff. After Wimbledon in 2013, I felt kind of exhausted and flat. I didn’t really feel like that, from my memory, after the match.”

By the end of 2012, Murray was the only British men’s player in the top 230. The complexion of British men’s tennis today could not be more different, with five men directly entered in the main draw: the No 7 seed Cameron Norrie, the No 20 seed Dan Evans, Murray, Jack Draper and Kyle Edmund, who is in the main draw with a protected ranking.

Norrie has only continued to flourish since the major milestone of reaching the Wimbledon semi‑finals in July. Since then he has reached the final in Los Cabos and a Masters 1000 semi-final in Cincinnati. Despite how much has changed in his ranking and performances, Norrie remains committed to ensuring he carries himself exactly the same as when his rise began.

“Nothing really changes too much,” said Norrie, who faces Benoît Paire in the first round and he has a fair chance of another deep run.

“Just same goal, to try make the second week again and then go from there, but it’s kind of seeing the draw and seeing the other guys out there it’s absolutely packed, it is so strong, so I’m gonna have to keep progressing and keep playing at an even higher level to hang with these guys.”

Draper also continues his steady rise up the rankings after reaching his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Montreal, which he followed up with another quarter‑final in Winston‑Salem, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem, one of his role models. He will have a tough opener against Emil Ruusuvuori, who played a brilliant match to defeat him at Queen’s Club, on his US Open debut.

“I think the exciting thing with me is that there’s so much development to come: physically, mentally, the more I play at this level, the more I get used to it,” Draper said. “The confidence I get from beating, hopefully, top players and stuff like that. So I’m happy with my progress.”