Murray meltdown is cause for concern
Andy Murray has a reputation, proudly earned over a six-year career of comebacks and marathons, as a fighter who loves the heat of combat - someone who hates to lose.
On his US Open debut in 2005, having won through qualifying, he was sick on court but still recovered to beat Andrei Pavel in five sets. He has proved, time and again, his ability to turn matches around and recover lost causes.
So why, against Stanislas Wawrinka, did he look like a beaten man as early as the second game of the third set, barely moving on his baseline? Why was there so little fight and so much anger?
Relentless ranting, rackets thrown, negative body language - it wasn't pretty. I must confess, I thought those days were over.
He was impeccably behaved at both.
Surely he realises that when his mood turns and the atmosphere darkens, matches tend to slip away from him and tournaments end with painful post-mortems.
This bizarre match - probably the strangest I have seen Murray play since his crazy defeat to Gael Monfils at the French Open of 2006 - required considerable explanation.
Was he injured? If so, how badly? Was he ill? Was he fatigued? If so why?
We filtered into a press conference, less than 20 minutes after match point, for a series of one-sentence answers from a crestfallen Murray. And no amount of tiptoeing from the vexed journalists could elicit a reasonable explanation.
His leg was hurting and he felt pins and needles in his right arm but injury, he confirmed, wasn't to blame for his surprise loss. He felt flat and, to some extent, fatigued. Wawrinka, he acknowledged, was simply the better player.
Murray must be praised for giving credit to his opponent. But if he was genuinely injured, to the point of not being able to play close to his best, then he shouldn't be afraid to say so.
Last year, after losing in the fourth round to Marin Cilic, we had the same situation. It later transpired he was carrying a wrist injury that ruled him out for six weeks in the autumn.
So was he injured against Wawrinka or not?
Oddly, he never called for an official medical timeout. Every time the trainer arrived, twice to rub the thigh and once to manipulate the neck, the treatment was within the confines of the regular change of ends.
Why didn't he take a timeout, as Wawrinka did for his own thigh problem in the third set?
Poor Murray, who fronted up to the media professionally but looked shell-shocked, didn't seem to have an answer. At one point, he said: "I just didn't feel great and it's my fault that I didn't".
There speaks a confused man.
He looked dizzy and troubled, such a contrast from the free spirit who blazed his way past David Nalbandian, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in successive days in Toronto.
Perhaps the pressure is getting to him. Perhaps the split with coach Miles Maclagan has preyed on his mind. Perhaps he had a dodgy prawn. He wasn't saying.
His new coach needs to be someone he totally respects and will listen to. That coach, in turn, needs to feel comfortable saying the things that need to be said.
At the age of 23, Murray's impending decision is arguably the most important of his career so far. He has the ability to win a major tournament by himself but, after this episode, he clearly needs guidance and support.
Throughout all this, we must praise - as Murray rightly did - Wawrinka.
The Swiss impressively ran off a thigh injury, which required heavy taping in the sixth game of the third set, played some terrific tennis and held his nerve amidst the strange events on the other side of the net.
Wawrinka fought through his troubles and found a way to win. It was unusual - and faintly concerning - to find Murray failing to do the same.