"Unpredictable." That was the word Andy Murray used to describe Michael Llodra, his opponent on Wednesday in the opening round of the US Open.
"Barking" might have been another way to put it. French tennis specialises in unconventional and flamboyant talents - the result of a development programme that encourages its juniors to stay free-spirited, rather than crushing them into the conformity of a national system.
Llodra takes this to extremes. His most famous stunt was when he stripped naked and hid in the locker belonging to Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic. As Murray has previously admitted: "I've been around him enough to know he's nuts. He's always making noise, he's like a young kid with so much energy. He'll be winding people up, slapping you on the back - he's like a younger version of Henri Leconte.
A funny guy." Llodra's eccentricities can also cross over into unsavoury behaviour. In March, he and his fellow French oddball, Benoit Paire, all but came to blows on the court and had to be separated by the umpire. Twelve months earlier, in Indian Wells, he was fined for racially abusing a fan who had been heckling him.
"This is not a souk here," he remarked at one point. "We are not selling carpets at the market." Both incidents - as well as the locker prank - took place -during the American hard-court season, which suggests that Llodra is prone to meltdowns in this part of the world. Perhaps the heat, forecast to reach 30 degrees today, does not agree with him. Still, he was at his most urbane while discussing this match, as well as his imminent retirement from the game. At 33, he has his future all mapped out, having already bought a wine bar in Dijon with his business partner - the former world No?10 Arnaud Clement - as well as a vineyard in Burgundy.
He plans to play one more full season before ditching his racket in favour of a grape press. Yesterday Llodra was asked to define his opponent in terms that an oenophile might understand. "If Andy was a wine, he would probably be something sweet, like a Sauternes or a Chateau d'Yquem," he replied. "When you watch him on TV you can see that he doesn't have a really big weapon, but when you're on the court you can feel something strong from him. You can feel that it's impossible to move him or to win the point. It's not easy. As for me, I would be a wine from the Rhone Valley, something like a Cote-Rotie. Some years it's good and some years it's bad!" This match-up ought to suit Murray, because Llodra is a left-handed net specialist who likes to keep the points short. At Wimbledon this year, only two players came in behind their serves with greater regularity. By rushing forward at every opportunity, he will present a target - and something of a soft one at that. There is no stroke that gives Murray more pleasure than the running passing shot; tennis's equivalent of the spectacular overhead bicycle kick.
As a consequence, there is no stroke that he strikes with more authority. So while Llodra's ranking at No?49 in the world might be high for a first-round opponent, Murray should be comfortable enough against a man whose style he knows well. Llodra has taken just a single set off him in three attempts, and was dispatched in less than two hours in their last meeting, at the 2012 Australian Open. That contest was so one-sided that the Frenchman started clowning around, hitting "tweener" shots from between his legs and even imitating Murray's grunt on the final point of the match. Any tension today is more likely to be related to Murray's status as defending champion - a first for him at a grand slam.
"When you haven't experienced something before it makes you feel a bit uneasy or uncertain," he admitted last week. Yet Murray expects the butterflies to flutter away quickly enough. He has also suggested that he is under less pressure than ever before at a big event. The two biggest gaps in his CV - the capture first of a major title, and then a singles victory at Wimbledon - have both been ticked off. Any more grand slams that he can add to that tally will of course be cherished, but no one can claim any more that he is an underachiever, or a man who freezes at the most critical moments. He is free to go out and play, and hopefully to add to a sequence of finishes that stands at first, second, first, first, second in his last five big-ticket events (including the Olympic Games in London).
Llodra might be a master of the locker-room ambush, as Ljubicic discovered. But it is hard to see him doing anything quite so dramatic against Murray on the court today.