Sometimes on Monday night it appeared that Andy Murray’s drinking habits were causing him more concern than his seeded opponent at the US Open.
Desperate to avoid the cramping issues which have bedevilled him, the 35 year-old Scot was set on imbibing exactly 1.5 litres of sports liquid every 40 minutes.
He was so keen to keep count during his first round match against world number 27 Francisco Cerundolo that he asked the umpire to ensure his used bottles were not taken away by attendant ballkids, so he could keep count.
Andy Murray booked his place in the second round of this year’s US Open on Monday
It clearly worked because this became the most comfortable victory he has notched at a Grand Slam since Wimbledon five years ago when his hip problems emerged.
Despite the heat and humidity rapidly rising after the 11am start there was no repeat of the physical problems which saw him having to be helped off court two weeks ago after defeat in Cincinnati.
He took care of Cerundolo 7-5 6-3 6-3 and will now meet American wildcard Emilio Nava. The 20 year-old Californian, ranked 203, upset Australian John Millman.
Murray was delighted afterwards, saying: ‘Mentally it’s not easy going into a five-set match in those conditions after the way the last few weeks have been for me, and I did well. I tried to put that to the back of my mind and find a way to get through, so I was really happy.’
Every victory mustered in the best-of-five format since Wimbledon five years ago has involved some passage or other that will have had his fans hiding behind the sofa. Not this time, once he had got over making a hash of serving for the first set at 5-3.
The Brit cruised to his first straight set victory at a Grand Slam tournament in five years
Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo was no match for Murray at the Louis Armstrong Stadium
Murray has appeared slightly reluctant here to discuss the tenth anniversary of his historic victory here.
He came in needing to focus very much on the present after a US hard court stint that had seen him lose three out of four matches, partly due to the slightly mysterious cramping.
Tests on his sweat and blood – substances that Murray has never been short of – revealed nothing untoward. Hence he was keen to rule out any mistakes when it comes to hydrating in these sapping conditions.
His challenge now is try and string some wins together. He was able to do this on the grass in July, but elsewhere this season he has continually tripped up after threating to go on a tear.
That is why his ranking remains at a relatively modest 51, far below the heights he was at when he beat Novak Djokovic in the dramatic 2012 final.
Present then and present now, in his third spell as coach, is Ivan Lendl, who was seated right down the front at courtside.
The Scot shook off concerns over his fitness after his three set battle with Cerundolo
At this tournament it is being allowed, on a trial basis, for players’ corners to give instructions during the match.
That is not the style of the Sphinx-like Lendl, but at one point he did briefly offer some advice when Murray wandered over to the box to towel himself down.
‘Ivan was trying to get me to keep moving him around the court, because he felt like physically my opponent was struggling,’ said Murray.’ I tried to do that certainly at the beginning of the sets and I managed to get a good lead because of it.’
Lendl is a reassuring presence, and it remains a telling statistic that the Czech-American has always been there when the former British number one has claimed his three Majors.
It is stretching matters to suppose that there is one more of those left in Murray, but then he is already doing something remarkable by persevering with a large lump of metal in his hip.
Cerundolo was seeded 24th, although it is an anomaly that he has got that high when he has yet to win a match at a Grand Slam.
An Argentinian whose preference is clay courts, he nonetheless reached the semi-finals at the Miami Open this year, thereby presenting a proper challenge.
After beating Cerundolo 7-5 6-3 6-3 Murray will now meet American wildcard Emilio Nava
If the cramping issues can be kept at bay nobody would much relish facing him next
It was here a year ago that Murray nearly beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a stormy first round best remembered for furious controversy over the Greek taking leisurely toilet breaks.
In the first set last night there was a potential flashpoint when Murray lost a point at 5-4 after Cerundolo retrieved a ball when it had clearly bounced twice.
Having seen it replayed twice on the big screen, sparking boos all around the Louis Armstrong Stadium, the South American realised what had happened and conceded it. ‘What he did was brilliant, and I don’t think that loads of players on the tour would have done that, and I said that to him at the net,’ added Murray.
He might actually have won more easily if he had been more clinical when trying to close out sets, a sign that his confidence is not what it used to be.
He played a nervy, error-strewn game when serving for the opener at 5-3 and was also broken when trying to serve the match out in the third.
Luckily his opponent played dreadful service games immediately afterwards to be broken, thereby sealing Murray’s most comfortable win at a Slam since the second round of Wimbledon 2017.
He ought to have the nous to get through the next round, and if the cramping can be kept at bay nobody would much relish facing him once he has some momentum.
Follow Sportsmail’s live coverage of Andy Murray’s first round match at the US Open in New York.