Sir Andy Murray yesterday saw off a niggling hip injury and rain showers to begin the defence of his Wimbledon title in commanding fashion with a straight sets victory.
The world number one made short work of his first round tie, defeating Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik before a packed crowd at Centre Court which included his pregnant wife, Kim Sears, the Duchess of Cambridge, and actor Dominic Cooper.
After a season disrupted by illness and injury, Murray comfortably avoided an upset, securing the win in one hour and 44 minutes.
The Scot, who withdrew from warm-up matches ahead of the prestigious tournament, continued to limp between points – a sign that he has not fully shaken off the problems with his hip – but when it mattered, he pleased the crowd with a dominant performance.
Speaking after the match, Murray said he was satisfied with how he dealt with the pain from the injury, as well as the poor weather, which led to several delays.
He said: “I feel pretty good, the last few days I had been feeling better each day.
“Getting out on the match court is different, the intensity is higher and the adrenaline helps numbs some pain. I moved well today and thought I did pretty well for the first match.
“I wasn’t thinking about the rain too much, I felt comfortable on foot today. The first few days on the court can be a bit slippery but I didn’t feel like I was losing my footing at all.”
He added: “I’ll spend some time with my physio this evening, get an ice bath, then have a light practice tomorrow. I’ll work a bit on my passing shots and lobs because it will be a different match against Dustin Brown.”
Earlier, the Duchess of Cambridge praised the ball boys and girls at Wimbledon during her first visit as patron of the All England Club.
Kate, who has long been a fan of the game, told two ball girls and a boy that their work “makes the game happen,” adding: “It makes such a difference to the players, your professionalism.”
The Duchess also met officials and players, including women’s world No 10 Agnieszka Radwanska and men’s world No 8 Dominic Thiem, when she arrived at the grounds.
She asked them how their practice sessions were going and whether they were nervous about their upcoming games. When she found out both players’ first matches were on Tuesday, she joked: “That’s why you’re so relaxed!”
While Murray’s fans had plenty to cheer inside Centre Court, many hoping to secure a ticket were left disappointed. Some people queued for more than 60 hours in the hope of buying a ticket for the tie – costing £56 – with as many as 8,000 waiting in line hours before the start of play.
Richard Lewis, chief executive of the All England Club, said the growing tradition of the Wimbledon queue, which allows fans to buy tickets on the day, had become “a victim of its own success at the moment”. He added: “We put out messages often where we say the queue is full. Predicting how many people will get in is the trick.”
Armed police amid spectators in the stands were part of a ramped-up security effort at Wimbledon on the first day of play. Sniffer dogs and G4S security guards were also present at the grounds.