NICHOLAS Mahut is hoping to end Andy Murray’s AEGON Championship hopes for the second year running after he eased into the second round at Queen’s yesterday.
The 31-year-old recorded a routine 6-3 6-2 victory over American Rhyne Williams on a weather-affected day in London to set up a re-match with the world No 2, scheduled for today.
Murray, who missed the French Open with a back injury, has yet to play competitively on grass this season and Mahut is hoping to take advantage of that as he searches for another memorable upset.
“To play Andy here at Queen’s is not a good draw, but last year I played amazing and I won the match,” he said.
“So I hope this year it’s going to be the same, but everyone expects him to win here, to win Wimbledon, so he has a lot of pressure on his shoulders. It will be much easier for me to play tomorrow. This is his first match here and first match for a month.
“I think if he’s playing here it means he’s feeling 100 per cent but, still, it’s the first round, especially on grass. I know he had some practice here, but still it’s never easy to start a tournament, especially in the grass season.”
Frenchman Mahut is also well remembered for setting the record for the longest match in tennis history when he lost to John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010.
The current world No 174 went on to reveal he enjoys grass more than any other surface and looks forward to competing at Queen’s. “I feel the atmosphere,” he added.
“It feels like home here. I have known Chris Kermode for many years and he is the best tournament director on the tour. In ten years I have played here every year. I really feel home and I love play on grass.
“To me, the grass season is always too short, but I don’t know why.
“My best two victories have come here – I beat Rafa [Nadal] and I beat Andy last year.”
Rain ruined the morning of the second day, with only two games reaching their conclusion before 3:30pm yesterday.
The 2010 winner and sixth seed Sam Querrey’s match with Aljaz Bedene was one of the clashes affected, but the American became the first name into the third round after a drawn out 7-6 (13/11), 5-7 7-6 (7/5) victory.
Spanish qualifier Feliciano Lopez caused another upset as he came from a set down to beat Ricardas Berankis 3-6 6-3 6-4, whilst British wildcard Kyle Edmund could not join Murray and Dan Evans in the second round after losing in straight sets to 16th seed Grega Zemlja.
Edmund, 18, won the boy’s doubles at Roland Garros last week and followed that up with a gutsy display against Slovenian Zemlja, who is currently ranked 51st, before losing 6-4, 7-6 (7/4).
Third seed Juan Martin del Potro was pushed to a third set by Xavier Malisse before a 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 7-5 success means he will face 13th seed Jarkko Nieminen in round three after the Finn saw off Ryan Harrison in straight sets.
Benjamin Becker and Kenny De Schepper also completed first-round victories, with both being taken to three sets by Bernard Tomic and Rajeev Ram.