IT would have been difficult for Matthias Bachinger to feel any better after the greatest win of his life.
The world No.245 produced a superb performance to see off the dogged veteran Radek Stepanek in three sets on Monday, thus securing his first win at a grand slam tournament and a second round meeting with Andy Murray. The pair will face each other tomorrow.
To say that the German was delighted would not do his feelings justice. The satisfaction of the 27-year-old would have grown still further when he caught the end of Murray's grimacing, painful win over Robin Haase.
Loading article content
The word from Murray's camp last night was that the Scot was feeling better following a victory over persistent cramp and a Dutch tennis player, and that he was to have a hit with Amelie Mauresmo, his coach. However, the experience had also been quite unsettling for the world No.9.
To have won a match which seemed in danger of slipping away from him was a remarkable feat in itself. Yet experiences like that - and Murray has been here before, do not forget - are sure to weigh on one's mind. Even someone as fit as the Scot, who won the US Open in 2012, will be slightly concerned by his health.
For Bachinger, though, a player who can remember beating Murray as a 14-year-old, there are no worries whatsoever. "It will be a good opportunity [for him]. If he's watched me today I am sure he will be feeling pretty good about the match," said Murray following his victory.
Bachinger arrived in New York only a day before the qualifying rounds began, having been given a late chance to compete. He typifies what makes a German player on the ATP Tour these days: a solid yet unspectacular performer who has the heart and fitness to compete, but without that sprinkling of magic which would enable him to break into the top 50.
Nonetheless, his fine win over Stepanek in which he served strongly - the Czech did not have a single break point opportunity - has Bachinger believing justifiably that he can triumph in the second round too.
"I saw the end of Andy's match; I saw that he was cramping a little bit. He had some problems, but at the end he won, like he usually does," said the German. "I was very surprised because he is normally really fit. I've never seen him cramping before but he's human, not a machine."
Bachinger is sure to play with a freedom which could hurt the Scot if he is unable to move freely. "For sure. It was my first grand slam [tournament] win. I played unbelievably; I think it was my best match ever. Stepanek is not a bad guy.
"This whole run has been such a surprise because I didn't think I would get in. They called me on Monday [to say he was to compete]. I flew here from Europe on Tuesday, I arrived in the afternoon and I played [in the first round of qualifying] on the Wednesday. So my preparation was not very good, but from the beginning I had a very good feeling.
"I played on clay the week before but I'm really looking forward to playing [Murray]. We played each other in juniors. 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. I can't remember that well, but he always wanted to win, 100 per cent. He was fighting for every ball, just like he does now. You could see that he would be a top star.
"When we were juniors, we were kind of friends. Then he went up [the rankings] so fast and I was still in school, playing some Futures. We're not really friends. I don't really know him now, but when we see each other we say 'hello'. Now, though, it's a different match, for sure, but I'm really looking forward to it."
Murray has been around long enough to know that no-one can ever be underestimated, whether you are suffering from debilitating cramps or not. "He's obviously kept working on his game and managed to break through late," said the Scot.
"When guys do that, when they've worked hard for it, you know when you go on the court against them they are not going to give anything to you. If he serves well, he's dangerous."