Andy Murray savours 'amazing' Centre Court opportunity after winning start at Wimbledon

Two-time champion overcomes James Duckworth in first round on Monday

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Andy Murray said he is savouring every opportunity to play on Wimbledon's Centre Court after the two-time champion recovered from a slow start to defeat Australian James Duckworth in the first round on Monday.

Murray, who in 2013 ended a 77-year wait for a home male Wimbledon champion before winning the title again three years later, shrugged off dropping the first set to claim a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory and set up a second-round clash with big-serving American John Isner.

The former world No 1, currently ranked 52nd, has spent much of the past four years battling against a career-threatening hip injury which required hip resurfacing surgery in 2019 in an attempt to extend his career.

Murray has struggled with a litany of other injuries, too, and entered Wimbledon having recently sustained an abdominal strain during his run to the Stuttgart Open final in the lead-up to the Grand Slam tournament.

Now 35, the Scot is in the latter stages of his career but proved on Monday he can still be a threat at Wimbledon and on his favoured grass courts.

"It's amazing to be back out here again with a full crowd after the last few years. It's an amazing atmosphere," Murray said to cheers on the historic arena that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

"Obviously I'm getting on a bit now so I don't know how many more opportunities I'll get to play on this court so I want to make the most of every time I get to come out here.

"Hopefully I'll get another match here in a couple of days."

Encouragingly for Murray, who preserved his record of never losing in the Wimbledon first round, he appeared to be moving smoothly and said "the ab felt absolutely fine today".

Duckworth, who like Murray has battled back from hip surgery, had suffered eight successive Tour-level defeats stretching back to November, but came out firing. He broke serve at 4-4 with a ferocious forehand return winner and then served out the set with another big forehand.

The mood on court was subdued but unseeded Murray, who has coach Ivan Lendl back in his corner, was unruffled and pounced for a 4-2 lead in the second and went on to level the match.

Murray began to exert his authority in the third set as world No 74 Duckworth complained about the light. The set was most notable for a rare underarm serve from Murray, who defended his use of the shot, saying it was a legitimate way to make opponents think twice before standing too deep to return serve

"He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two metres further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in," he said.

Murray suggested the underarm serve might become more popular as players retreat further behind the baseline to improve their chances of getting a decent return on big serves.

"I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have," he said. "Certainly more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return.

"The underarm serve is a way of saying: 'If you're going to step back there, then I'm going to possibly throw that in'."

The fourth set was played with the roof closed and lights switched on and for a while Duckworth was re-energised as he pushed Murray hard with some aggressive hitting. But the Scot seized on a poor Duckworth service game at 4-4, breaking when his opponent dumped a second serve into the net.

Murray needed no second invitation to rack up his 60th Wimbledon victory, sealing it when Duckworth opted to challenge a second serve rather than play the rally and Hawkeye showed it had hit the line.

Updated: June 28, 2022, 4:49 AM
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