Tramlines

Press conference cramps Nadal’s style

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When reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal
suddenly stopped talking and began to slump in his chair, Tramlines almost fell off its own seating device.

It must have been even more shocking for those assembled for the press conference - hacks with glazed-over eyes, so used are they to perfunctory
post-match platitudes from players.

Here
was one of the greatest players to grace the sport of tennis, one minute in
full flow - and the next seeming to lose control of his motor functions.

The truth of the matter was, thankfully,
relatively mundane: Nadal had cramp. Nothing more, nothing less.

However, after calling for medical
attention, and with the press officer asking for a ceasefire on photo-taking,
he did not get to his feet and seek to stretch out the offending muscle - but
instead slipped off his chair entirely and to the floor, with the problem leg left
protruding above the table top in view of all. Truly bizarre.

It raises questions of whether the hard-running
Mallorcan can defend his title in New York.

He has a day off to recuperate ahead of his
last-16 clash with big-serving Gilles Muller, and should not have a problem
against the world No.68, but the path gets tricky from there on in. Andy
Roddick or David Ferrer awaits in the quarter-finals then former Flushing
Meadows finalist Andy Murray, who was in superb form to breeze past Feliciano
Lopez in straight sets on Sunday night, will meet him in the semis.

Nadal called the press corps back into the
room and shrugged off the incident, saying: "I will train
normally on Monday. It was just a normal cramp that could have happened
anywhere, but it happened in the press room. Anywhere else, nobody would have noticed."

Trammers is not and never has been a
professional tennis player - despite its 100 per cent record against Alex Bogdanovic on clay - so for all it knows it may be quite normal to get cramp in the
front and back of the leg at the same time, as described by Nadal, two hours after
a top-level game.

However, mundane or not, a problem that can
force a beast like Nadal to the floor in agony cannot bode well for his
physical condition at the most demanding of all Grand Slams. And especially not
when you consider how far his game is based on relentless defensive work.

He has made a concerted effort in recent
times to base his triumphs more on serve and volley, saving his suspect knees
from taking too many poundings in exhilarating but punishing long rallies.

That move has not been a great success - to
Trammers's cycloptic eye, at least - and the second seed needed a medical timeout during his
triumph over David Nalbandian in order to put a tape on his leg.

If this is what happens to Nadal after a win
in straight sets, what would a five-set marathon do to him?

Agree? Or (more likely) disagree? Enter the
discussion with a comment below.

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Murray has revenge in his sights when he
meets wildcard Donald Young in the last 16 - but he should win at a canter if
his match against Lopez was anything to go by.

Having scraped through in five sets against
a supercharged Robin Haase, the three-setter against Lopez was a tonic for the
Scot. He did not drop a single point on serve in the first set and saved both
of the break points that he faced over the course of the evening.

Murray lost to Young in the early rounds of
the Indian Wells Masters in March, but that was then and this is now.

"I
was in a pretty bad place probably around Indian Wells. It was a tough, tough
part of the year for me," he said tonight. "It's not so much revenge
against Donald. It's more for the situation I was in there and making sure that
I can kind of move on from that."

Trammers
and the whole of Scotland - sorry, Britain - is hoping that he can go a few steps
further than that and put to bed his Grand Slam final curse.

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Quote of the day: "I was feeling really bad. I
think it was because it's really humid today. It's hot. And also, when you are
there, you have a lot of emotion in the court. My body just need to breathe,
and I starting maybe to have the sensation to throw up. But doesn't, without
nothing inside, so it didn't come out." In a tournament beset by
withdrawals and retirements, Flavia Pennetta reveals how the pressure of
playing in a Slam can in part cause an athlete to feel ill.

Upset
of the day
: Pennetta,
vanquisher of Maria Sharapova in the previous round, for beating both her dry
retches and higher-seeded Peng Shuai to reach the quarter-finals for the second
year running.

Looking
ahead
: Top seed Caroline
Wozniacki facing former US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova could be tasty - Sveta
looked good in her fourth-round win over Akgul Amanmuradova. Trammers predicts
an upset.

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