Wimbledon | Murray clears tricky first round

Twice champion Andy Murray cruised into the second round of Wimbledon and declared: “I’m ready for a good run.”

It's been a long time since I've felt physically this good coming into Wimbledon. The last few years have been challenging. I'm hoping I'm fit and ready for a good run. Andy Murray

Murray saw off the challenge of fellow Brit Ryan Peniston 6-3 6-0 6-1 in just over two hours watched from the Royal Box on Centre Court by retired adversary Roger Federer.

The Scot defeated Federer to win Olympic gold on the same court in 2012 just a month after the Swiss had overcome him the All England final.

And the winning shot then produced one of the loudest roars in the history of the most famous and revered arena in the sport.

The decibel level might have been less as Murray completed his routine victory over wild card Peniston with Federer, wife Mirka and the Princess of Wales either side of him, leading the applause.

But it was loud enough, with everyone inside the stadium aware of what Murray had gone through to feel “physically this good “.

His career was under threat as the Scot – then world No.1 – limped out of The Championships in 2017 with a hip problem, one which eventually forced him to have a metal one inserted into his body.

Murray, 36, said: “It’s amazing to be back here playing on Centre Court. Started off I was quite nervous at the beginning and I wanted to play well but once I got the break in that first set I think I played some good stuff. There were good signs there.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt physically this good coming into Wimbledon. The last few years have been challenging. I’m hoping I’m fit and ready for a good run.

“It was amazing to have some royalty here and some tennis royalty as well. It’s amazing to have Roger here supporting the event.

“The last time I was on this court and he was watching it, it was the Olympics and he was sat in Stan Wawrinka’s box supporting against me.”

And he added to the onlooking Federer, who retired after recording a record eight All England triumphs and 20 Slam titles in all: “I hope you are doing well.”

Andy Murray and Ryan Peniston my be great friends off court, but rivals on

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The omens could be good for Murray. He went on to win Wimbledon the only other time he had faced a compatriot. That was when he swept aside Liam Brady to go on and topple giant Canadian Milos Raonic in 2016.

The naysayers maintained his chances of a comeback to the elite was zero after his hip resurfacing.

But he ignored the negative noise as he battled his way back into the top 40 this year for the first time since his ailments forced him to stop.

And he was in bullish mood ahead of his 15th campaign at the All England, hinting a third crown in London SW19 was a possibility with his experience on grass, particularly on Centre Court.

Left-hander Peniston made the quarters of Queen’s and Eastbourne last year. And his six wins on the ATP Tour going in had all been on grass.

But it has to be argued that facing a wild card ranked 268 in the world was certainly a relatively more comfortable way to kick off a campaign for Murray.

He made an indifferent start. Struggled to get his first serve going and Peniston’s backhand was working superbly.

The Scot was forced to save break points, but he was able to hold serve and in the sixth game broke his 27-year-old Essex opponent.

Murray extended his lead to 5-2.

Peniston held before the former world No.1 took the set as he stepped up the aggression and executed a delicate drop volley.

The stat sheet showed that Murray returned 95 per cent of Peniston’s serves in that set.

And that was reflected at the start of the second when the double Olympic champion broke his opponent twice to establish a commanding lead.

Peniston was cheered on by a packed players’ guest box, but his resistance was crumbling as Murray’s confidence grew and form improved.

Former British No.1 Tim Henman said: “It’s like the two boxers jabbing and then you just have that heavyweight punch that comes in. Murray just has more weight and then he unloads.”

There was no respite for Peniston as Murray wore him down with power and accuracy from the back of the court forcing errors off the underdog facing an icon.

Murray broke again, taking a third break point. Peniston managed to go 30-0 up as Murray served for the set but the favourite regained control to go two-sets up.

The pendulum continued to swing in Murray’s favour at the start of the third as he broke Peniston in the opening game of it and held. Peniston finally managed to win a game for 2-1,
although Murray made him work for it with one rally lasting 31 shots.

But it was just delaying the inevitable as Murray lined up a showdown with either fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or former US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

Ryan Peniston found the experience amazin

Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Peniston said: “Andy played really well today. Yeah, I think why not? Why can’t he go and win it? The main thing that Andy did really well was he was just relentless on every point. That’s why the scoreline was like it was.

“The experience was amazing. Yeah, obviously not the result I wanted. I wanted to try to go out and win. But, yeah, Andy is an amazing player. But it was overall an amazing experience for me. He played a pretty clean match I thought. The scoreline was definitely one-sided for him, but I felt like we had a lot of good rallies and close, close points that went his way.

“I couldn’t really believe it. I was trying to maintain the calmness, but it was impossible. Maybe midway through the first set was when it kind of started to settle down a bit. But, yeah, the first 20 minutes or so, it didn’t feel real at all.”



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