November 23, 2014
Perfect start for Wimbledon hero Murray
All was as it should be on the opening day of Wimbledon when returning British hero Andy Murray opened the defence of his historic title with an impressive first-round victory today.
Under bright skies, with the Centre Court grass glistening, his grandparents in the royal box and Murray resplendent in spotless white attire, the 27-year-old walked out to a standing ovation and rewarded his fans by dismantling Belgium's David Goffin 6-1 6-4 7-5.
Men's top seed Novak Djokovic, the man Murray beat in spine-tingling fashion last July to become the first home men's singles champion at the All England Club for 77 years, also began in style, crushing Andrey Golubev 6-0 6-1 6-4 in his first grasscourt outing of the year.
Dark horse Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, winner of the Queen's Club grasscourt title this month, and sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych both eased into the second round but there were some early casualties in the women's draw, notably former US Open champion Samantha Stosur, the 17th seed, losing to Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.
Women's second seed Li Na suffered an early fright when she trailed 5-3 to Polish qualifier Paula Kania before completing a 7-5 6-2 victory against the world No.183 making her Wimbledon debut.
It has not all been plain sailing for Murray since that scorching Sunday afternoon when he ended decades of British men's failure at the most famous tournament in the sport.
Spinal surgery, a split with coach Ivan Lendl and up-and-down form meant there were a few question marks over the third seed as he prepared for two weeks of Murray Mania.
But, with new coach Amelie Mauresmo watching, Murray went through his full repertoire against a lightweight opponent who played the supporting role to perfection, engaging in some eye-catching rallies without threatening to rain on Murray's parade.
"I enjoyed it for the walk to the chair. Then when I sat down, it was time to get on with business," Murray, seeking to become the first man to retain the title since Roger Federer in 2007, told reporters.
"I was nervous yesterday. I was probably a bit more nervous yesterday than I was today. But it does help if you can get ahead early, like I did at the beginning of the match, I got an early break, that helped settle them down a little bit."
Only in the third set did Goffin, a more dangerous player than his 104th ranking suggests, have Murray sweating, earning two break points in the fourth game but his chance came and went before the crowd favourite turned the screws.
"I thought it was a very high-standard match. I was glad to finish it in three," Murray, who will play Slovenia's Blaz Rola in round two, added.