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Brain games all part of bigger picture for revitalised Andy Murray

ANDY MURRAY showed no ill effects of the mysterious debilitating cramps which threatened to bring his US Open challenge to an early end as he was put through his paces once again yesterday.

Andy Murray takes on fuel as his coach, Amelie Mauresmo, waits to resume training at Flushing Meadows yesterday.Picture: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images
Andy Murray takes on fuel as his coach, Amelie Mauresmo, waits to resume training at Flushing Meadows yesterday.Picture: Alex Trautwig/Getty Images

Indeed, the Scot has looked in fine fettle ever since his body was contorted in the wildest of ways during his typically dramatic first-round victory over Dutchman Robin Haase on Monday.

He takes on World No.245 Matthias Bachinger in the early hours of tomorrow morning eager to ensure it will be his tennis, and not his ailments, which make the headlines.

Goran Ivanisevic, the former Wimbledon champion, was quick to empathise with the World No.9's pain.

"The conditions can be very tough, very humid," said the Croat, who won at SW19 in 2001. "It can happen. You can't control it. It just happens. Luckily for him he won the match. Sometimes you can't continue.

"It happened to me once in the last game and I was serving, so I hit three aces. Sometimes you have bad luck and you lose the match. He is looking OK. He has overcome it. I don't think he's going to cramp again.

"All the drinks can't help you when the thing strikes you. You can save a little time but you can only hope it goes away quickly. If it happens early in a match, you can be in big trouble. But I don't think it's going to happen again. You're cramping. Especially for me, when you are serving you jump and you cramp.

"He came through. He won the match. That's all that matters. Cramping, playing s*** - it doesn't matter so long as you win.

"With Andy you never know. He is one of the favourites always. You expect him to go far. I think he should get to the quarter-final with [Novak] Djokovic, and then you never know."

Murray's next opponent might not be a household name, but any match involving Dunblane's finest is box office and the pair have been given a primetime slot on the main Arthur Ashe court here.

Watching with interest will be Amelie Mauresmo, who is attracting plenty of attention herself in her role as coach to Murray. The former Wimbledon champion was, in the eyes of many, a surprise choice to replace Ivan Lendl and the partnership has yet to really bear any fruit.

However, the sight of them hitting together reveals a very relaxed partnership with plenty of smiles on show alongside dogged hard work.

"When I was growing up, when you come on the tour and no one is doing it, it's not something that's done [being coached by a woman]," Murray told reporters.

"And when I was, like, 18, it's also not just you that dictates who your coach is, it's also organisations, like, obviously, with Brad [Gilbert], the LTA [Lawn Tennis Association] were involved with that. Your family can also be involved as well, and it wasn't really until the last couple of years where I'm thinking like, well, basically, why not?

"That was it. Why couldn't it work? What are the reasons for it not working? A lot of men obviously coach on the women's tour, and there's no reason why a woman can't coach on the men's tour. I mean, just because there's differences in the women's game, in the men's game — definite differences, that's clear when you're watching matches — but a woman can have just as good an understanding of the men's game as anyone else.

"The mental side I don't necessarily want to comment on, but there are differences in the way a man's brain works and a woman's brain works - I think - so there are going to be some differences there, scientifically.

"In terms of the technical stuff, I don't think there are huge amounts of differences. Women hit the ball flatter than men, for sure. If you look at statistics in terms of serving and receiving, there are a lot more breaks of serve in the women's game, so the return game is extremely important. And the women that can hold on to their serve the best - Serena [Williams] is best at that - will tend to be the best in the world.

"It's not necessarily to bring her game into mine, it's just more that, if there are things that I can do on the court which I'm not necessarily tapping into or haven't been using the last couple of years, I feel like it's something that she can help me get back to and explain to me better," Murray added.

"But there are a lot of coaches that have played completely different styles from their players. It's just about the way they see the game and if they can explain things in a way that makes the player understand it. That's really the most important part of being a good coach."

Only time - and results - will tell just how good Mauresmo is.

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