After a difficult and painful build-up to Wimbledon, Andy Murray was relieved to be able to begin the defence of his title with a straight-sets victory – plus a joke at the expense of his opponent.
The Scot’s preparations for the tournament had been pretty chaotic: a shock first-round defeat at Queen’s and then a hip injury which killed the chance of any more competitive action on grass.
But after yesterday’s 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik, Murray said: “I played pretty good. I was a bit nervous this morning [as] I hadn’t been able to do as much as I would have liked in the build-up. But my hip felt good.”
The No 1 seed was quizzed about almost seeming to hobble between points but merely smiled at the thought that the state of his left hip has become a national obsession. “I’ve always done it and everyone is sort of saying that I’m walking that way because of my hip.
“I’m not in a lot of pain when I’m walking, that’s for sure. Whether it’s something that’s just happened these last couple of weeks, like subconsciously my hip’s been sore, I’ve no idea.”
That prompted laughter in the media room, as did details provided by Murray of the banter between the players during the two rain breaks, any sort of conversation during a match being a rarity.
Earlier this year, Bublik had conducted a jokey interview with Murray when the latter, offering champion’s advice, had cautioned the 20-year-old about serving so many double faults, 20 having been recorded in one match.
Yesterday, before resuming play, Bublik thanked his mentor for the tip, but Murray felt compelled to point out the that Kazakh was still mucking up on his serve. “He said: ‘Yeah, [but] I think I’m only on ten [double faults] right now.’ I said: ‘Well, there’s still time to get to 20.’
“It was just funny. It’s rare that you speak to someone during a match. I just asked him how he liked Centre Court and stuff. We had a little chat.”
It’s traditional for the champion to open proceedings in the great bowl and Murray felt being back at the scene of great triumphs helped his game and, who knows, maybe made him forget about his aches and pains.
“I love playing on Centre Court,” he said, “and feel really comfortable out there. So, you know, that definitely helps.” Next up will be Dustin Brown tomorrow and it should be an entertaining match. “He’s a great mover, a good personality and always a fun, fun guy to watch,” Murray said of the Jamaican-German with the impressive dreadlocks.
Murray was asked about his fellow Brit Dan Evans who recently tested positive for cocaine. “He has let himself down and all of the people that help him,” Murray said. “I’m sure his team and family will be extremely disappointed. I have obviously spent a reasonable amount of time with Dan over the last couple of years. He put himself in a position to do really well … and he has blown that now. It will be interesting to see what he does, if he even wants to come back.”
Then it was back to the hip for one more vital inquiry – had he perhaps not gone for the odd shot against Bublik to play safe? “No, my hip felt good,” Murray stressed. “It’s a little bit sore but I was moving really good. That’s the most important thing. If you’re in a little bit of pain, but you can still run as normal, that doesn’t affect how you play. It’s when it’s affecting your movement and some of the shots that it becomes a problem.
“Today that wasn’t the case at all. So I’m really positive about that. Hopefully it’ll feel good again tomorrow.”