MURRAY mania was back in full swing as the British No 1 opened his Wimbledon campaign on centre court on Tuesday night, marching decisively into the second round of the tournament.
Thousands of fans, many with union flags, saltires and face masks of their hero, had faced long queues to see Andy Murray as he sought to banish the memory of his first-round exit at Queen’s and give the country hope that this could be his year.
Harry Potter creator J K Rowling was among the great and the good to take their seats in the Royal Box on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, alongside broadcaster Sir Terry Wogan, Prince Michael of Kent and singer Grace Jones.
Those not lucky enough to get a Centre Court ticket took up their positions on “Murray Mound”, after tucking into a traditional dessert of straw- berries and cream.
They were not disappointed. The Scot stormed through his first round match against the former world No 3 Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets, 6-1, 6-1, 6-4.
Among the fans who had queued for tickets was 46-year-old delivery driver Mark Martin from the island of Lewis, who had camped over the weekend in order to secure a seat on the show court.
“Murray’s got a tough draw, no doubt about it, but all we can do is hope, can’t we?” he said.
Concern had been raised about Murray’s back problems, after he lost in the quarter-finals at the French Open and crashed out of the Queen’s Club tournament in London at the first time of asking.
The 25-year-old, bidding to become the first Briton to win the men’s singles title since Fred Perry in 1936, had been criticised for how he reacted to his injury troubles. Former champion Virginia Wade called him a drama queen; John McEnroe questioned whether the problem was largely in his head.
Davydenko, 31, had added fresh fuel to the debate about Murray’s on-court demeanour, saying that other players laughed at his sometimes dramatic re- actions to his physical struggles. The Russian also said he did not think his rival had what it took to win a grand slam.
But those worries seemed to be far from the Scot’s mind last night as he strode to victory.
Speaking after the match, Murray said: “The first two sets were very good. I got off to a great start. I’ve been waiting around since Queen’s, I’ve been itching to get going. I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly today. I was hitting the ball very cleanly, I used my slice very well.”
Murray, the world No 4 who is playing in his seventh Wimbledon, added: “I probably settle into matches a bit quicker than I used to.
“There’s been a lot of talk from a lot of people, so I just wanted to start the tournament. The first round’s never easy, but it was a good start.”
Murray and Davydenko had met nine times before, with the Scot holding a slender 5-4 advantage.
Bookmakers Ladbrokes made Murray a long odds-on at 1-20 to get past the first round, but 1-2 to marry his girlfriend Kim Sears before he wins a Grand Slam
Murray had the support of some of his colleagues, with six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer saying he expected the Scot to reach the semi-finals for the fourth successive year.
“Home-court advantage, playing on grass, with his talent and his game – everything’s right there for him,” Federer said.
But he added: “I guess you always need a little bit of luck along the way.”
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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