Wimbledon2022: "Nothing underhand about my underhand serve," says Andy Murray
There are lots of ways to win a tennis match and Andy Murray has just discovered another. But the two-times Wimbledon champion doesn’t believe there’s anything underhand about the underarm serve.
The Scot deployed the tactic against Australia’s James Duckworth and beat his first-round opponent 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 after overcoming an early scare.
“He changed his return position - that’s why I did it,” Murray explained. “He was struggling a bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two metres further back. As soon as I saw that I threw the underarm serve in.
“I personally have no issue with players using it and never have. Certainly more and more players have started returning from further behind the baseline to give themselves an advantage. The underarm serve is a way of saying: ‘If you're going to step back there, then I'm going to maybe throw that in.’
“I don't know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful. It's a legitimate way of serving. Why would you not use it to try and bring your opponent forward if they're not comfortable returning there? Tactically it's a smart play.”
Coming into Wimbledon Murray suffered abdominal problems which restricted his serve but after the 3hour 15minutes contest he declared himself happy with his fitness. “It felt fine, to be honest,” he said. “The last few days when I've been serving were fine. I went to get an ultrasound scan after Saturday’s practice just to see how it was progressing. It was all clear for the first time which is really positive. I wanted that kind of for my own peace of mind to know that the injury has healed. Obviously I still need to take precautions and still do some rehab and protect it when I can.”
Murray in his 13th go at the Wimbledon singles and despite the emergence of Emma Raducanu remains the big draw for the primetime evening slots. Being box-office, he said, had positives but also negatives.
“There are things I like about it and some I don't. Usually the atmosphere is really good but the start-time has moved to half an hour later and on-court interviews have been added after the matches.”
This one was halted when Murray was in the middle of a purple patch so the court could be covered and the lights turned on. “It's not easy, changing conditions like that, and also having breaks at potentially key points in matches,” he added.
“I would much rather play outdoors and wish there was a way of finishing matches [without the roof] more often because it's tricky stopping for ten or 12 minutes in the middle of a match at important stages. It kills the momentum and you cool off a little bit as well.”
But, reflecting on the win, Murray declared himself satisfied. “James started the match well and early on maybe I didn’t return as well as I would have liked. I was creating opportunities on return but wasn't able to take them. Then as the match went on, my return improved. And with that, the match turned.” Next up for Murray: America’s John Isner.
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