There has been much discussion of how Andy Murray's US Open breakthrough has the potential to turn him into a more relaxed figure on the court. Perhaps it will, eventually, but his first two matches at the Brisbane International were both tricky, edgy affairs.
After sneaking past Australian qualifier John Millman in three sets on Thursday, Murray had to be alert again yesterday (Friday) against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, the world No?43. Istomin served so powerfully and so well that Murray generated only one break point in the match. But he did take it, and that was enough to make the difference in a 6-4, 7-6 win.
"It was quite a tough time of day to play on this court because of the shadows," Murray, who is now through to the semi-finals, said. "It's hard to track the ball sometimes. I had a couple of opportunities and just mis-hit shots, which was frustrating because I wasn't timing the ball as I would have liked. But I managed to stay focused in the tie-break and played a good breaker."
Murray was reunited yesterday with his coach Ivan Lendl, who arrived in the morning after a 16-hour flight from Miami and thus watched his charge play in a competitive situation for the first time since the US Open final.
It was not a vintage performance, but then Murray often tends to take a while to get his body moving at its smoothest after a lay-off from competitive tennis.
"It's a long trip to get over [physically]," he said, after grunting and grimacing as he climbed on to the platform in the interview room. "It takes more than two, three days, more like a week or 10 days before you're feeling absolutely perfect."
He also dismissed a recent story that he had "vowed" to stop swearing on the court - a promise it would be hard to imagine him keeping, given his natural perfectionism and the intense irritation he experiences when he makes a mistake.
"I was doing an interview over the phone," he said, after a match in which he did his fair share of raging and growling. "I got asked about swearing on the court. I said, obviously I don't mean to do it. I don't want to do it. Sometimes you get frustrated and you do.
"So, yeah, while I would obviously love to stop doing it, and I try not to, I can't guarantee it."