The cause of the astonishing physical breakdown that nearly led to Andy Murray being dumped out of the US Open at the first hurdle on Monday remains a mystery.
An all-over body cramp of the kind described can occur when sportsmen exert themselves in extreme heat. At the Australian Open in Melbourne earlier this year, players were dropping like flies in temperatures touching 43C. At Flushing Meadows it was nowhere near that hot, and nothing that a professional used to playing in all climes could not have handled.
Murray himself said afterwards that he thought it might be diet. A “systemic” problem like this would explain why the cramps were all over his body rather than in one place, as would be the case if there were a problem with the conditioning of a particular muscle.
But while there is some sketchy evidence linking variations in potassium, magnesium and carbohydrate levels to risks of muscle cramp, his nutritionist would have to have made some quite substantial alterations to his diet to produce such a radical breakdown.
Of course, Murray does have a reputation for being, in the blunt assessment of Virginia Wade, “a drama queen”. In his defence, since he earned that label two years ago, he has won the US Open, the Olympics and Wimbledon.
That success and the subsequent dry spell, during which he has failed to make a Grand Slam final in more than a year, may go some way to explaining the cramp, a condition which can be exacerbated by nervous tension. Knowing that the US Open is probably his last chance to rescue a forgettable year may have made him seize up more than usual.
It could of, course, be a combination of all of the above. As so often in medicine, it’s hard to be sure, and there’s every chance it was a freak incident. Murray will certainly hope so.Reuse content