Murray wins Wimbledon opener under spotlight

Andy Murray won the Wimbledon title in men’s singles in 2013 and 2016 before being plagued by injury problems
Location: All England Club dates: June 27-10 July
Coverage: Live on BBC TV, radio and online with extensive coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, Connected TVs and mobile app.

Briton Andy Murray maintained his record of never losing in the first round at Wimbledon with an encouraging win over Australian James Duckworth.

After a slow start, probably due to a recent abdominal injury, Murray found rhythm and his quality shined through.

The former world number one, now 52nd, won 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 at 21:35 BST under the spotlight on Center Court.

The 35-year-old Scot will now face the 20th-seeded American John Isner in the second round on Wednesday.

“It’s great to be here with a full crowd again,” said Murray, two-time Wimbledon champion.

“I’m doing a bit better now, so I don’t know how many chances I’ll get here.

“I’m glad I managed to get through and hopefully I’ll get another game here at Center in a few days.”

Murray eliminates injury problems by encouraging performance

Questions had been raised about Murray’s condition all week and he answered with more than a shadow of doubt last Monday when he revealed that he had been unable to get specific shots – which he believed was the serve.

An abdominal injury sustained in the Stuttgart final earlier this month had stalled his progress in an encouraging grass pitch season and prevented him from playing at Queen’s Club.

But as the week progressed and he hit the serve during practice sessions at Wimbledon, it seemed clear it would be good to return to the scene of his finest triumphs.

Of course the intensity of a match is another circumstance to practice and it took him a while to find his rhythm with his serve.

But once he did, Murray looked completely at ease against the world’s number 74 Duckworth.

While it wasn’t quite vintage Murray, there were plenty of quality moments to entertain the eager home crowd.

There was even a chance for Murray to throw a forearm serve in the third set – rarely if ever seen in his career – to make fans laugh.

But the most important thing for those who stayed late was the 2013 and 2016 champions, a dangerous unseeded float in the draw, who looks fit enough to cause trouble for more opponents these two weeks.

Improved service helps Murray fight back

Murray’s slow start allowed Duckworth to successfully execute on his intended plan to play aggressively and dictate the points.

With Murray continuing to run frequently, he knocked a forehand into the net for a breakpoint at 4-4 and Duckworth took it with a raspy forehand winner to get him served for the set.

Another bang from that wing sealed the opener for the Australian, leaving Center Court home fans muttering their surprise.

Murray started landing more first serves in the second set, which gave him the platform to quickly put Duckworth back under pressure.

Murray dropped just two points in his service games, helped by landing more first serves and winning 100% of those points.

Like Murray, Duckworth has also had his career hampered by injuries and had hip surgery earlier this year.

Since his return in May, he had only played eight games – of which he lost six – and adrenaline alone would never be enough to win a five-set match at a Grand Slam.

Murray’s superior quality continued to shine through in the third, dominating to take a 4-1 lead before digging deep to take the pressure off in his next game of service.

With the track darkening, Duckworth wanted to close the roof and turn on the spotlight, but had to wait for Murray to complete the third set.

The fourth set was subtly tied without any interruption in service until two double errors by Duckworth at 4-4 enabled Murray to serve out the win.

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