Britain’s Andy Murray still out on his own at Wimbledon
Andy Murray’s Wimbledon success 12 months ago ended Britain’s 77-year wait for a men’s singles champion and has handed the chasing pack of tennis players in the country a daunting yardstick, according to James Ward.
Murray began his title defence in commanding fashion yesterday on Centre Court as he cruised past Belgium’s David Goffin 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.
But Ward led the list of British hopefuls crashing out on the first day of the championships, downed in straight sets by 17th seed Mikhail Youzhny.
The 27-year-old wild-card entrant lost 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, Johanna Konta was outmanoeuvred by China’s Peng Shuai and Dan Cox was overwhelmed by France’s Jeremy Chardy.
Ward, the world No 154, defended pocketing £27,000 (Dh168,700) for his first-round exit, saying that the fight to make a breakthrough is a costly business.
“It depends what you call ‘underachieving’,” Ward said of Britain’s several first-round losses.
“If you think winning Wimbledon is underachieving, from Andy that’s too good.
“Obviously, Andy’s a great player; it’s tough to keep up there with him.
“But we’re all striving to do it as much as everyone else is in the world of tennis.
“I’m as disappointed as everyone else to lose, don’t get me wrong, but you’ve got to take the loss on the chin.
“The prize money is irrelevant. You don’t think about that once. It’s expensive. It’s the same for everyone.”
For Murray, it was business as usual as he returned to Centre Court for the first since he defeated Novak Djokovic in straight sets in last year’s final.
The No 3 seed, who plays Slovenia’s Blaz Rola tomorrow in the second round, said: “I thought it was a very high-standard match. I was glad to finish it in three.
“I was nervous this morning and I was nervous last night, but once you sit down on the chair it’s time to get on with it.
“It brought back a lot of good memories. It is nice to walk out to a full crowd for the first match,” he said.
“Last year was the best memory I have had, but I have had a lot of tough moments on that court, as well, so there is a lot of things I think about.”
While organisers will not confirm until later today the court on which Murray will face Rola, the world No 92, is excited about the possibility of taking on the British No 1 on the main arena.
“Nothing can prepare me for this,” he said after beating Pablo Andujar of Spain 6-3, 6-1, 6-4.
“I am going to walk up that stand and see how many people are actually watching this because I actually really never stepped on the Centre Court here.”
Djokovic, the No 1 seed, who is scheduled to meet Murray in the semi-finals of the tournament, got his campaign off to an impressive start as he swept past Russian Andrey Golubev in straight sets 6-0, 6-1, 6-4.
The Serbian, who won the event in 2011, next meets Radek Stepanek, who proved too good for Argentina’s Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.
GULBIS AND ‘VAMPIRES’ DO NOT GET ALONG
French Open semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis has never been afraid of causing a stir, and he was inadvertently at it again after his first-round victory at Wimbledon yesterday.
The 25-year-old Latvian, who once called the big four of men’s tennis boring and has made racket smashing an art form, became embroiled in a bizarre exchange with journalists about vampires.
Mishearing a question about whether he agreed with a comment from former world No 1 John McEnroe that “umpires” should be scrapped, he sounded off about “vampires” believing he was talking about the size of some players’ entourages.
“My God. Umpires? I thought something else,” Gulbis said, when he eventually realised the misunderstanding.
“I thought vampires in the way the people who are surrounding and sucking the energy out of players. That’s what I meant.
“I thought [McEnroe] made an expression.
“Let’s say, in a way that people are surrounded with a lot of people who are there to help. Let’s say you have now a team of six people. Some of the players, they have press guy, they have physio, they have coach, they have massage therapist, fitness.”
While so-called vampires might not be to his liking, Gulbis is certainly not advocating getting rid of court officials and leaving players to call their own lines, even if it would probably spice up the sport. “Without umpires, it wouldn’t work, no,” he said.
Gulbis defeated the Estonian Jurgen Zopp 7-6, 7-5, 7-6.
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Published: June 24, 2014 04:00 AM