If insufficient preparation was one of the reasons why Andy Murray suffered body cramps during his first-round victory here at the US Open he might like to compare experiences with his next opponent. Matthias Bachinger was in Europe the day before his opening match and had not played on a hard court all summer.
Bachinger, the world No 235, was not ranked high enough to earn a place even in last week’s qualifying tournament – he was in 23rd place on the original list of alternates – but as players withdrew he rose up the pecking order.
On Monday last week the 27-year-old German became the last player to make the qualifying field. On Tuesday he flew to New York and on Wednesday he played in the first round of qualifying. Three wins in three days took him into the main draw and on Monday he played “my best match ever” to beat Radek Stepanek, the world No 39, for his first Grand Slam victory.
“My preparation was not very good, but from the beginning I had a very good feeling,” Bachinger said. “I served unbelievably against Stepanek. He did not have any break points. I played really well. I served good, returned really well. It was maybe the best tennis day of my life.”
Bachinger, who describes himself as an attacking baseliner, reached a career-high No 85 in the world rankings three years ago. After health issues he now plays mostly on the Challenger circuit, which this year has taken him to Guadeloupe, Kyoto, Guangzhou, New Delhi and Guadalajara.
Bachinger has never played Murray at senior level but recalled playing the Scot regularly when they were 14. “I won one time, 7-6 in the third set,” Bachinger said. “I’ve never forgotten that because in juniors he was really, really good. Then I think I lost to him three times. He always wanted to win, 100 per cent. He was fighting for every ball, just like he does now. You could see he would be a top star.”
Bachinger watched the latter stages of Murray’s first-round victory over Robin Haase, which was played in the middle of the day in temperatures that topped 30C. “He had some problems, but at the end he won, like he usually does,” Bachinger said. “I was very surprised he was cramping because he is normally really fit. I’ve never seen him cramping before, but he’s human, not a machine.”
The temperature is predicted to rise to 32C on Wednesday but will fall to 27C on Thursday, when Bachinger will play Murray. The Scot said that he was still unable to explain why he had cramped the previous day.
“I felt physically ready before the match,” he said. “Last night before I went to bed I felt fine. I woke up today with no aches or pains. It would suggest it was something I hadn’t eaten or drunk before I went out there.”
He added: “I don’t play my next match until Thursday. I need to hydrate before then and get a lot of food in the body.” Murray also revealed that his physical problems had continued when he left the court on Monday. “I didn’t feel great in the locker room for half an hour, 40 minutes afterwards,” he said. “Getting your shoes, ankle braces and socks off is not that easy when you are cramping. I had some pasta, some sports drink, banana, and an ice bath.”