Wimbledon 2014: Murray eases into second round with straight sets victory

From James Toney in Wimbledon

In the end it was all a bit boring and all a bit inevitable but as Andy Murray started his Wimbledon defence with a straight sets victory there were certainly no complaints.

There was once a time when British tennis fans expected to have their emotions shredded and loyalties questioned here at the All England Club, it was virtually included in the terms and conditions of entry, alongside the permitted size of a picnic hamper.

But it’s no longer quite so shameful to be wearing one of those Union Jack bowler hats and waving a flag like it’s the Last Night of the Proms. There is a sense of expectation when Murray plays now, fuelled by 14 straight wins at the All England Club, if you take into account the London Olympics, last year’s Championships and yesterday’s first round win.

Only two players had fallen at the first hurdle of their Wimbledon title defence and Murray came through his opening examination with ease, barely leaving a scar on the pristine court as he progressed past Belgium’s David Goffin, the world number 103, in just over two hours.

Statistics will tell you he dominated this match – as he should have done, considering the near 100 world ranking spots that separate them and the fact that Goffin has never beaten a player in the world’s top ten in nine attempts and has only won three matches all year.

Murray didn’t need to outmuscle him, he simply outthought him, the mental work out being more valuable at this stage of the tournament than the physical one.

This was the tennis equivalent of the perfect pre-season friendly. A test but not a tough test and no injuries, though Murray frequently slipped on the fresh and verdant Centre Court, where no player had trod since his famous win 12 months ago.

“I was actually quite nervous, all the memories came flooding back and I had to shift my focus from last year to this year,” he said.

“I tried to take in the atmosphere and the experience of walking out on the court as the defending champion.  You never know if you’ll get the chance to do it again.

“It helped that I got ahead early with a break and that helped settle me down. I though I played very well, I hit the ball cleanly and there wasn’t a time when I felt like I was mistiming ball.”

But the manner of his win gives cause for confidence as he prepares to face Slovenia’s rather snazzily named Blaz Rola, a big-serving left-hander who was a straight sets winner over Spain’s Pablo Andujar.

Murray has never played 6ft 4ins Rola, the world number 92, who did his own take on managing expectations by insisting his key ambition was not to ‘poop my pants’.

However, Murray’s Davis Cup team-mate James Ward beat him well at Queen’s recently and another straightforward, probably straight sets, victory should be confidently predicted tomorrow.

“I don’t know loads about him, but I watched him play at the French Open. James played him in the last round of qualifying there and he played him at Queen’s too – and won both matches.

“He hasn’t been on tour too long.  So I’ll watch a little bit of video of him and hopefully get a better idea of his game.”

Indeed the most thinking Murray had to do yesterday was in his daily skirmish with the media. Having learned his lesson, he refused to talk about England’s World Cup campaign, wouldn’t go into detail about the dog he recently rescued or share his views about his recent moonlighting as guest editor of The Beano.

Wimbledon is a tournament played in stark white – if you want colour for your copy go somewhere else, interview someone else.

However, he is clearly enjoying his fledgling relationship with new coach Amelie Mauresmo, who couldn’t be any more different to Ivan Lendl, who guided him to success 12 months ago.

“The stuff we’ve done on the court hasn’t been that dissimilar in terms of the practices and the preparations,” he added. 

“They’re completely different people, completely different personalities.  Everyone could say the same thing, but it’s about how you say it, how you get through to the pupil.  That comes through communication and it needs to be the right personality fit. I hope I found that.”

As the Official Banking Partner of The Championships, HSBC is helping fans get closer to Wimbledon by giving them the chance to win Centre Court tickets. For further information, visit 

Photo courtesy of by Carine06, with thanks.
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