Paul Newman: Murray must learn advantage of keeping aches and pains private

Wade’s assertion that Murray was a "drama queen" was absurd. The spasms were real

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The Independent Online

Honesty is one of Andy Murray's many qualities. When the 25-year-old Scot plays badly, he says so. "Bad luck" is not in his vocabulary. When he feels strongly about an issue – like the need for lower-ranked players to be paid more or the absurdly unfair scheduling at the US Open – he does not hold back in his views.

When he is on the court, however, Murray would do himself a favour by being less candid. If he has a physical problem during a match, the world No 4 tends to let everyone know about it through his grimaces and negative body language. For some opponents, that is just the sort of encouragement they need to up their game.

Nevertheless, Virginia Wade's assertion that Murray was "a drama queen" who was "not really acting in an adult way" during his victory over Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday was absurd. As the Scot said afterwards, he had nothing whatsoever to gain from play-acting. The back spasms from which he was suffering were clearly real enough.

When Murray practised yesterday it was evident that he was still less than 100 per cent, though he looked much better than he had at the start of his match against Nieminen, when he could barely run and sent for the trainer for on-court treatment on three occasions.

It remains to be seen in his third-round match today against Santiago Giraldo how much Murray is still suffering, but you would hope that Ivan Lendl, his coach, will have drummed into him the need to try to hide whatever pain he is feeling.

Not all opponents will be as accommodating as Nieminen, who threw away his chance with a catalogue of errors, or Michael Berrer, who was on the other side of the net when Murray injured his ankle here last year.

The German admitted afterwards that he had felt sorry for his opponent. "In Germany we have a saying that an injured deer has to fall," Berrer said after admitting that he did not have the heart to kill off the Scot.

There have been times when better players have taken advantage of Murray's all-too-public troubles. When he lost to Tomas Berdych here two years ago, the Czech's coach told his charge during a rain break that Murray "was looking like he doesn't want to play".

When Murray was beaten by Stanislas Wawrinka at the US Open later that summer both men had physical issues, but it was Murray's suffering that was the more visible and the Swiss appeared to draw encouragement from it.

Lendl said from the start of his association with Murray that he wanted him to focus more fully on his tennis. The Scot's attitude was much improved at this year's Australian Open in particular and nowadays you rarely see him screaming in the general direction of his entourage.

Murray will never be one to hide completely his emotions on court, but there are times when he needs to keep his pain private.