Murray brilliant, lucky and still in with a chance
At Roland Garros
Andy Murray loves his boxing and will have seen many a bout end with the corner man throwing in the towel, for the protection of his fighter.
If that option existed in tennis then perhaps Murray wouldn't still be in the French Open.
Dani Vallverdu, the world number four's travelling coach, hitting partner and confidant, was on his feet at the end of an agonising first set. Murray could hardly move, grimacing after virtually every point, and was patting serves over the net like an amateur.
I don't know who it was - Vallverdu or perhaps one of his physical team - but at least one person wanted him to stop. Murray was unable to compete, slapping the ball like a beaten man, and it seemed pointless being out there. Ivan Lendl was saying nothing, but "save yourself Andy" appeared to be the message from at least one of the others.
"I kind of heard them saying stuff," Murray told BBC Sport, "but I was zoned out, I was gone mentally.
"I was just looking at the ground, just didn't know what to think, so I wasn't really hearing. I think they were telling me to stop. I looked up at them after the first set and they didn't really want me to keep going."
Murray overcame a significant injury scare to reach the French Open third round with victory over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen. Photo: Getty
He kept going. He turned it round. He ended up winning comfortably, according to the scoreboard.
Hours earlier, in an apartment just off the Champs-Elysees, Murray rose to a grey morning with a muscle in spasm in the lower left side of his back.
It wasn't too bad in the morning, practising on Court Philippe Chatrier at 9am, ("not great, but not terrible") but the real pain hit during his warm-up behind the scenes at 10.25am.
He found himself on an exercise bike saying to his team "I can't believe this is happening". He talked about quitting there and then.
Physio Andy Ireland, one of the best in the business, assured him the muscle spasm was unconnected to the back issues he's been occasionally suffering from this year, so the decision was made to play.
And as Ivan Ljubicic, the recently retired world number three, told me later in the day, chances were that it was only going to improve as the match went on. The decision to play and the decision to keep playing, Ljubicic thinks, was absolutely correct.
"Back spasm is something that hurts, something that prevents you from giving your best, but it's also the kind of injury that only gets better," he said. "I'm sure in the next round he's going to feel a lot better, so the big scare was today."
And what a scare it was.
I confess to having the same thought as virtually everyone else during that traumatic first hour and a half: what's the point in this?
With a massive summer ahead, Murray was stubbornly going through the motions and getting a thrashing because he couldn't put weight on his left leg.
Was Murray maybe, in a warped kind of way, enjoying the challenge of beating a potentially combustible Nieminen on skill alone? He was patting the serves over but was often winning the rallies, out-thinking and out-hitting the Finn.
Nieminen was suddenly looking to his box for help. At change of ends he started walking towards the net rather than to his chair. He looked like a man desperate to receive a resignation handshake to relieve the stress for everyone.
As Murray started to loosen up, the pain easing and the shots flowing, Nieminen got more and more spooked by the situation. He started double-faulting and netting smashes, and even hit thin air with a drive-volley.
Nieminen later said: "It looked like he could hardly walk. It's not often someone looks that bad and can keep going."
Murray certainly left the crowd in no doubt about how he was feeling, and his problems certainly messed with his opponent's mind. Hard to play football against 10 men? Sometimes it's hard to play tennis against an injured opponent.
"It was his fault for letting me back in," said Murray in his press conference. "I didn't do anything special."
Murray did brilliantly to turn the match around. He didn't necessarily believe he was going to win, wasn't immune to the idea of quitting in the second set and, let's be honest, he was lucky to survive.
He, like most others, couldn't believe Nieminen's inability to make him pay. Next time he sees him, he should offer that handshake and say thanks for the gift.
But most importantly he remains in the tournament and, if the back improves, can still wish for a successful run in Paris. He thrashed his next opponent, Santiago Giraldo of Colombia, when they met on the clay of Barcelona last month.
Remember he twisted an ankle 12 months ago but was let off the hook by Michael Berrer in the third round? The recovery from two sets down against Viktor Troicki in the last 16? The crutches, the broken tooth...
As drama follows Andy Murray around Roland Garros, for the second successive year, he remains in with a chance here.