In tennis, too much of it makes players make bad choices; too little of it makes them rush and in the end it runs out. Thanks to the French Open's Sunday start, Andy Murray has had to wait an extra day to make his bow here and will be looking to make up for lost time when he plays Tatsuma Ito, the world No.68, in round one on Court Suzanne Lenglen this afternoon.
Having arrived here more than a week ago, Murray will doubtless be itching to get started. Yesterday, he practised off site, away from the hustle and bustle of Roland Garros and the demands of the grand slam event that remains the toughest for him to win.
With his coach, Ivan Lendl, having returned from a short trip to Prague to play an exhibition – a commitment he told the Scot about before beginning their relationship in January – yesterday was more about getting his mind right, rather than any last-minute technical changes.
His troublesome back, he says, has been improving day by day and will not be a factor over the next fortnight. A semi-finalist last year, Murray would love to match that effort this time, though with David Ferrer in his quarter, doing it will be far from easy.
There are stumbling blocks before that, of course, but over five sets he has proven that he is extremely hard to beat and he will be confident that he can go deep into the tournament.
The problem for Murray, of course, is that he is living, breathing and playing in the same era as Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and now Novak Djokovic. Since Marat Safin won the Australian Open in 2005, the top three have won 27 of 28 grand slam titles, with Juan Martin Del Potro the exception, at the US Open in 2009.
Murray will have you believe it is a privilege to be playing at the same time but it's hard not to think he would have won at least one or two already, had his timing been better.
The Scot turned 25 a couple of weeks ago, an important milestone in a tennis player's career for a couple of reasons. One, because 25 is considered to be a player's physical peak but two, because it's a good marker for grand slam success.
Murray maintains he believes he will win grand slam titles – note the plural – but of all the men to have won more than one in the professional era, only three – Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall – were older than Murray when they won their first. Laver and Rosewall already had won some but that was in the amateur era.
Of course, Murray would surely settle for winning one but he knows that time is not exactly on his side. "You get old quick in sport," Murray told The Herald earlier this week. "Our careers can be anything from five or six years to 12 or 14 years, so it's not a long career. That's why you've got to try to make the most of it while you can."
Murray is not old, of course, but said there are clear differences between playing as a fresh 18-year-old and a seasoned 25-year-old. "I don't feel really sore [in the mornings] but I'm just more aware of things now," he said. "As you get older, you know how to deal with certain things, what is just stiffness and what is the start of a problem or something maybe a bit more serious. When you're young, you don't understand – when you're in pain, you don't think about it, you don't really understand it."
The way Djokovic was doing the splits as part of his pre-match practice routine, you might have thought he was more gymnast than tennis player.
The world No.1 began his quest for a fourth straight grand slam win – and tennis immortality – with a hard-fought 7-6, 6-3, 6-1 win over Potito Starace, of Italy.
The Serb was pushed hard in the first set but eventually found his fluency and denied that he felt any extra pressure from trying to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive grand slams.
"I really think it's a challenge and something to embrace and to enjoy," he said. "I'll try to go step-by-step. It's really too early to talk about getting my hands on the trophy, but it's definitely a goal."
Djokovic was beaten in the semi-finals last year by Roger Federer, the Swiss who is still adamant that he can add to his record tally of 16 grand slams. Yesterday, Federer equalled Jimmy Connors' record of 233 grand slam victories with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win over Germany's Tobias Kamke.
"Well, it's a huge record, me making it," Federer said. " I had not realised. Thank you for not asking me the question before the match because it would have added pressure on me. But I'm very happy because Jimmy Connors was a huge champion, still is. So it's a great pleasure. All these tournaments I played in grand slams in a row, it ended up paying back with such a big record."
Nadal, chasing his seventh French Open title in eight years, begins against the Italian Simone Bolelli today.