Almost every British tennis lover was praying that Andy Murray would turn the clock back last night. What we didn’t expect – at least, not when he led Nikoloz Basilashvili by a 6-4, 6-3, 5-0 margin – was for him to put us through another emotional assault course.
Yet that is exactly what vintage Murray means, and as he enters the twilight of his career, we should salute the sheer bloody-mindedness that carried him to this point. He has never been as clinical a finisher as the other giants of his era. But you cannot deny the entertainment value – and eventually the satisfaction – of watching him crawl through one of these quagmires. At around 9.30pm on Centre Court, the tension reached the stage where even the scoreboard packed up.
Everyone knows Murray’s reluctance to take the direct route when a more circuitous journey is available. Even by his standards, though, this was an agonising satnav failure. Having moved so decisively ahead in the third set, he then lost seven straight games and had to leave the court while the roof closed on account of the fading light.
Suddenly another motoring metaphor sprung to mind: that endless drive back from a family holiday where you finally turn into your home street, only for your young child to wake up and puke all over the back seat.
Murray had been so dominant and now the whole future of the match – his whole career, indeed – was back in the balance. His matches have always been dramatic but this one was surreal. One minute Murray was fist-pumping away as if he had crossed the finish line, the next he was reeled in as Basilashvili – the apparently emotionless Georgian – found a new level of backs-to-the-wall brilliance. Here was a car crash unfolding in slow motion.
Thank goodness for the bad light, and the ten-minute roof-closing delay which gave Murray a chance to reset. He resumed in finer fettle for the fourth set, while Basilashvili couldn’t recapture his rhythm. In the end, it was Murray’s extra touch that made the difference as he drew another bunch of errors from his opponent’s racket and eventually closed out his 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win in 3hr 33min.
“I did well to win in the fourth set because it was mentally not easy going back out there,” Murray told Lee McKenzie in his on-court interview. “I went and had a shower, went to the toilet – just for a number one. I was just disappointed I had lost the third and I had to remember what I had been doing well to get into that position. I brought back some of the drop-shots and served a bit better than I had in the third set.”
Basilashvili, on paper, should have been a heavy favourite to win this match. He is the 24th seed, and ten days ago he reached the semi-finals of a prestigious grass-court event in Germany. Murray has a metal ball-and-socket joint at the top of his femur and has barely beaten anyone all season. As he admitted last week, “I’m always telling myself that each match might be my last.”
But Centre Court transformed itself into a time capsule. For the majority of this match, Murray delivered one of his old masterclasses. All the trademarks were there: the aces under pressure, the knifed slices that almost kissed the netcord as they passed, and the sweetly timed backhand returns.
Basilashvili strikes a huge ball off both wings, but at this stage, he had no answer to Murray’s sorcery. He looked as bewildered – and ill-equipped – as a gorilla trying to play Jenga. As long as the rallies were straightforward clunkathons, then Basilashvili was able to hold his own via his haymaker of a forehand. But then, as soon as Murray brought out the more delicate parts of his armoury – the drop-shots and the dinks – the game changed. He was like a UFC fighter who tickles his opponent into submission.
In the early part of the third set, he rolled back the years by adding power to the poise he had shown in previously. Now he was unloading his full weight into the ball with the old coil and release.
Was it to be this simple? Apparently not. Having guarded his serve like a Doberman watchdog all match, Murray dropped it four times from 5-0 up in the third set. This was vintage Murray in a different sense: the man who likes to do things the hard way.
” It’s been extremely tough,” Murray told McKenzie. “Even these last few months. It has been extremely frustrating not being able to get on the court. I’ve had such little momentum over these last few years. I’ve kept trying, doing all the right things to be back in this position. I feel very lucky I get to do it again.
“I keep getting asked is this going to be my last Wimbledon. No, I’m going to keep playing. I want to play, I’m enjoying it. I can still play at the highest level. He’s ranked 28 in the world and I beat him. So I’ll keep going.”
Heather Watson suffers first round disappointment but Liam Broady claims impressive win
By Molly McElwee
Heather Watson gave the late-night Court One crowd a three-hour thriller but ultimately disappointed, after squandering match point to fall to American lucky loser Kristie Ahn.
The British No 2 looked to be on her way to a straightforward win, taking the first set in just over 30 minutes, but instead wasted her chances to close out the match. While Watson fell flat in the second set, Ahn upped her game and levelled up by winning the tiebreaker.
Poor light forced the players off the court while the roof was closed, but Watson returned with confidence and got an early break in the decider. Ahn kept at her though, and Watson fluffed her lines on match point to let the American back into the match – losing 2-6, 7-6, 8-6 in the end.
It was No 117 Ahn’s first ever main draw win at Wimbledon, but a low point for Watson, who made the Birmingham semi-final earlier this month and had looked in form for a good run here.
“I’m really disappointed with the match today,” Watson said, in tears at her press conference. “I felt like I had so many chances. Just didn’t convert any of them… Didn’t back myself in the big moments.”
Earlier in the day compatriot Liam Broady recorded his second ever win at Wimbledon, six years on from his first, in a dominant display against Italy’s fiery Marco Cecchinato. Broady, 143rd in the world, came through in straight sets against his 86th-ranked opponent, as the Italian lost his cool.
“Six years is a long time in a tennis career,” he said after the 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 win. “In 2019 I made last round of quallies, I was two sets to love up, ended losing in five, which was a bit of a heartbreaker. So it felt good to put this one away in straight sets today.”
He plays either ninth seed Diego Schwartzman or France’s Benoit Paire in the second round. Meanwhile, Jodie Burrage’s first Wimbledon experience ended swiftly with a heavy first-round loss to Lauren Davis winning just three games in a 6-2, 6-1 loss to the American.
As it happened…
Andy Murray speaks…
On returning to Wimbledon…
“It’s amazing to be back here playing on Centre Court again. It’s something I’ve missed [playing in front of fans].”
On winning his battle with Basilashvili…
“I did well to win in the fourth set – it wasn’t easy.”
On what he did during the roof break..
“I had a shower and went to the toilet – it was just a No,1 (cue howls of laughter from the crowd)
On trying to get back to the top of the game…
“It’s been very tough, even these past few months. I’ve had such little momentum over the past few years. I’ve been working hard to get me back here and I feel lucky to have a chance to play here again.”
In his plans to NOT RETIRE…
“I keep getting asked [if I am retiring] – I am going to keep on playing. I want to play., I am enjoying it, I can still playing at a high level. He’s world No.28 and I beat him.”
ANDY MURRAY WINS 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3!!!
At 30-0 down Murray plays a sumptuous backhand winner that gets the crowd salivating. Basilashvili, after getting it to 40-15, then dishes up a double fault. The Georgian, under pressure, then makes an unforced error and Murray is at deuce. At service point up Basilashvili then suffers another double fault – his second serve is faltering. A third deuce, soon becomes a fourth deuce and it’s a case of who blinks first.
It’s Basilashvili and Murray now has a match point (his third of the match). But the Georgian plays a wonderful forehand winger down the line and it’s a fifth deuce.
A backhand in the line from Basilashvili gives Murray his fourth match point AND the Georgian hits another backhand into the net AND MURRAY WINS (finally) IN FOUR SETS!
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 5-3 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Once again the HawkEye doesn’t seem to be working. All of a sudden it’s the same story with Murray’s serve as he finds himself 15-30 down. He then summons up the big first serve that worked so well for him earlier on, an ace. A long sliced, backhand gifts Basilashvili break point. As so often this evening Murray deploys the drop shot to rescue his service game – risky but it worked. Another ace gets the Scot to advantage and he holds the next point. Phew – that was a huge drop shot on break point down.
Basilashvili is now serving to stay in the match (we’ve said that before a few times this evening…)
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-3 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Murray is talking to himself a lot out there (that’s the two-time champ they all know and love). This is turning into a war of attrition now – both are just trying to stay in the rallies and waiting for their opponent to make a mistake. Basilashvili holds to 15. Will Murray blink now on serve?
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-2 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray seems to have found his serving mojo – that’s much more like it. He holds to love, playing a fine angled sliced backhand the final point of that game.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 3-2 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Both players are looking weary out there – Basilashvili more so as a double fault (a decision challenged by the Georgian – which can’t be reviewed – the HawkEye people clock off at 9pm perhaps?!) gives Murray break points. But Basilashvili fights back to get service point. A long forehand makes it deuce once again. The Georgian then plays another tired looking shot into the net and Murray has another break point. But after an awesome backhand exchange Basilashvili comes out on top and we’re back to deuce once more. From there Basilashvili makes no mistake and he too having forgotten how it, holds his serve.
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 3-1 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
HURRAH!! Murray holds. It’s taken a while for him to remember that’s the aim but it’s come. The two-time champion hods to 15 and he now has the advantage and momentum in this fourth set.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 2-1 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Would anyone care to remind these two that this game is easier when you hold onto your serve – Murray breaks again and once again to love.
OK, Murray now would be a fine time to hold serve and take a 3-1 lead in the process.
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 1-1 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray is moving well again – it looks like that break has done him good. The first point sees Basilashvili come out on top of a high-class rally with a forehand crosscourt winner. The Georgian then comes out on top in a baseline battle – Murray needs to get his first serves in or Basilashvili will dominate the rallies. A backhand into the net from Murray gifts his opponent a break point and Basilashvili breaks with a fine winner down the line. Murray needs to get his serve back to have a chance. He’s been broken five times in a row.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 1-0 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
The first point sees Basilashvili hits a forehand into the net and Murray lets out a mini roar. The next point Murray plays a forehand winner thanks to the Georgian slipping over. Murray then charges Basilashvili and his opponent goes long with a backhand – Murray has three break points and he only needs one of them. He breaks to love…another twist.
Play is back under way
Can Andy Murray find his form of the first two sets and five games?
They’re back out on court
It’s now an indoor match.
Think a few of us could do with a drink after that third set
The players will be back on court in 10 minutes
You have to make Basilashvili the favourite now – he looks a changed man. Murray looks tired and is, remember, short of match practice.
They’re now going to close the roof
Murray could do with a break, he looks shattered.
Basilashvili wins the third set 7-5!!!
Basilashvili’s groundstrokes must be audible in north London – he’s hitting with confidence and power and making Murray breathe hard. The Scot, however, gees up the crowd, with a forehand winner to make it 40-15 – he looks shattered and he’s been stretched each point. His head drops as a backhand into the net to make it deuce. His first serve has gone this set and so has his touch a – drop shot into the net gifts Basilashvili a set point. Murray finds a huge first serve and his famous roar to peg it back to deuce. Another error, a forehand into the net, a tired looking shot, gives Basilashvili a second set point which he wins after winning a battle of volleys at the net.
Wow – that’s a stunning turnaround from 5-0 down in the set. It looked like he quit but is back in this match.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-6 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Murray has to maintain his composure and try to pull this set out – you fear for him if he doesn’t…
But Basilashvili gets a 30-0 headstart, he’s playing with no fear at the moment and Murray has no answer. He holds to 15 and Murray from serving at 5-0 up is now serving to save in the set. That’s six straight games for the Georgian.
Well, that wasn’t n the script…
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-5 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray opens up this vital game with a backhand winner on the run set up by a lob. He then goes long with another sliced backhand – all of a sudden he looks on edge out there. Basilashvili then reaches a drop shot and forces Murray to hitting a forehand wide and the Georgian is 15-30 up. A huge first serve (he’s been missing those the past few service games) recovers it to 30-30 before a backhand into the net gives Basilashvili his latest break point and he breaks for the third time in a row with a brilliant volleyed winner after being forced into the net by Murray.
Wow…it’s a new match now.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-4 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Murray had his opponent on the floor but since then errors have crept into his game. A brilliant crosscourt, forehand winner gets him to 15-30 and puts Basilashvili under pressure. The Georgian then smashes his forehand crosscourt so wide it’s almost end in Earlsfield and Murray has two match points. Basilashvili saves the first, and then gets it back to deuce with a fine first serve that Murray does well to get to. Murray then goes long and Basilashvili takes the game with an ace. The Georgian certainly is showing some guts out there.
Murray will have a third opportunity to serve out the match.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-3 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Murray’s serve is faltering now – Basilashvili has another break point after a 76 mph second serve from Murray. Murray then plays a sliced backhand long and Basilashvili has a second break…this wasn’t supposed to happen
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-2 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Basilashvili is showing some confidence for the first time this set and holds to love. He couldn’t come back could he?
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 5-1 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Just when you thought Murray would wrap up the match with ease than Basilashvili goes 0-30 on Murray’s serve. He gets two break points before Murray plays the first serve and volley of the match. The home favourite then hits a backhand into the net and the Georgian breaks for the first time – too little too late from Basilashvili?
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 5-0 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Murray is playing some exhibition stuff now – he plays a brilliant down the line backhand winner that he would have been proud of in his pomp. Then he tops that with a powerful forehand winner to make it 30-30. Yet another delicate drop shot makes it 30-40 for another break point and a forehand winner down the line makes it 5-0.
That was vintage Murray – exceptional. He’s now serving for the match.
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 4-0 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
You don’t need me to tel you this (but I will anyway…) this is really impressive stuff from Murray. He’s moving around the court well and inducing the errors from his Georgian opponent. His serving has been top notch and once again Basilashvili has no answer to Murray – the Scot holding to love.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 3-0 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Two wonderful winners, the second a tradement backhand get Murray to 0-30. Basilashvili looks lost and he has no answer to Murray’s groundstrokes which are drawing the errors from his opponent. He breaks to love.
Murray 6-4, 6-3, 2-0 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Basilashvili reminds Murray (and the fans) of his power with a huge forehand to make it 15-15. He then gets the better of a long rally thanks to another fine forehand to make it 30-30. But Murray’s serving has been impressive all night and he holds to 30.
Murray* 6-4, 6-3, 1-0 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Wow, just when you thought it couldn’t get more impressive or better it does.
Murray wins the first four points of the set and has an early break.
Basilashvili looks slightly lost out there now.
Murray is two sets up!
MURRAY TAKES THE SECOND SET 6-3 and lead 6-4, 6-3
Murray is under pressure (not for the first time on his serve this set) at 15-30 down. Basilashvili misses a big opportunity with a long backhand and before he knows it Murray has taken the set thanks to a brilliant drop shot.
Murray* 6-4, 5-3 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Basilashvili is under pressure early on at 15-30 down. He then moves Murray around well to set up a forehand winner for 30-30. He then double faults and Murray has a break point, that is chalked off with an ace. At the second deuce Murray moves the Georgian around well forcing him into an error for and another break point and a forehand into the net gives Murray the break!
Murray will now serve for the second set – boy is he moving and playing well.
Murray 6-4, 4-3 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray has problems with two calls early on in the game – they sandwich an ace – one which goes for him, the other against. Basilashvili is looking better against the Murray serve and earns another break. Again Murray serves big under pressure and it’s deuce. Another big first serve gives the home favourite advantage and the third big first serve in a row down the line gives him the hold. Another big hold back-to-back for Murray. The competitive juices are well and truly still there.
Murray* 6-4, 3-3 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Again Basilashvili shows a cute touch – he bashes two groundstrokes before a sliced drop shot sees him make is 30-0. The Georgian is growing in confidence and holds to love.
Murray 6-4, 3-2 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
The game starts with Murray playing two sliced backhands played short – it’s becoming predictable with Basilashvili alert to the Scot’s tactic. His doesn’t need to play the drop shots that often, though, when his first serves are as powerful as they have been tonight – another ace gets him to 30-15. Basilashvili then shows great touch (he’s not all about smashing the ball) with a backhand winner for 30-30. Murray then hits into the net to gift Basilashvili his first break point. The Georgian then makes a mistake – he gets to the net but plays his volley into the net – that’s a great chance blown. At deuce Murray serves another ace and then wraps up his service game the next point – an impressive, gutsy hold.
Murray* 6-4, 2-2 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
The Georgian holds to 15 in his most impressive service game so far.
Murray 6-4, 2-1 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray still hasn’t been under pressure on his serve (bar one game in the first set) he holds to 15 thanks to another display of great first serves.
Murray* 6-4, 1-1 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
The Georgian races to a 40-15 lead when one of the best shots of the past 20 years makes an appearance – the Murray backhand. It’s a delightful winner but only postpones Basilashvili holding serve by 15 secs or so.
The Murray roar IS BACK
Murray 6-4, 1-0 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray was moving well during that first set – that as much as the scoreline will please Murray fans. He has eight aces already Murray loses a brutal baseline battle before he remembers that he has to move Basilashvili around to win this match and again plays a delightful dropshot which sets up a volleyed winner. He holds to 30.
MURRAY TAKES THE FIRST SET 6-4!!!
When Basilashvili has to adjust (when the ball isn’t there to be whacked) he looks awkward on court. Murray is making him come into the net and taking pace off the ball well. Murray has the advantage at 15-30 before the Georgian makes it 30-30. Murray, though, plays another delightful dropshot which Basilashvili cannot deal with to bring up set point. And he breaks thanks to a backhand which Basilashvili hits into the net.
What a great set from Murray – brilliant gameplan that was worked to a tee so far.
Murray 5-4 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray is looking good at the moment. He’s taking the pace off the ball and making his opponent play cute – not his forte. A lovely rally ends with Basilashvili volleying into the net. Murray takes the game to 30 with his sixth ace.
Basilashvili serving to stay in the first set.
Murray* 4-4 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
The sun is out for what seems like the first time today – Basilashvili looks in control of the game until Murray plays two powerful groundstrokes which force errors from the Georgian. At 40-30 Murray then moves his opponent around with a slice, and a push and poke down the line to make it deuce. Promising signs for Murray but the Georgian ultimately holds.
Murray 4-3 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray is more than matching his opponent’s power from the baseline. A long rally ends in Basilashvili making the mistake and Murray has the early advantage. It gets to 30-30 when a fine spinning serve to the Georgian’s forehand makes it 40-30. Murray is trying the sliced backhand and it hasn’t worked out every time so far – it goes wide to make it deuce on his serve for the first time on the Scot’s serve. A Murray drop shot and then a fine first serve which Basilashvili cannot deal with sees him hold serve. Big moment for Murray.
Murray* 3-3 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
There have already been a few baseline battles so far – Murray is moving well but misses an easy backhand (by his high standards) at 0-15. Another long rally then sees Murray force the error to make it 30-30. Basilashvili’s huge forehand makes it 40-30, then hits into the net for the first deuce of the match. The Georgian makes no mistake from there to hold serve.
Murray is complaining about the slippery court – something Djokovic mentioned after his win.
Murray 3-2 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray is up to five aces in just three service games – he’s looked very impressive on his serve so far and wins that service game to love.
Murray* 2-2 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
Basilashvili has been as high as 16th in the world rankings and you imagine he hit some huge backhands and forehands to get him there. Murray is using the sliced return a fair amount and it’s paid some dividends so far. He gets it to 40-30 before a backhand into the net makes it 2-2 with no breaks of serve.
Murray 2-1 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray plays a delicate backhand slice-cum-drop shot at 15-0 to which Basilashvili has no answer. He still has it. The Georgian is a cool customer, though, and a smashed winner shows he’ll be hard to beat. But Murray holds to 15 and it’s an impressive start from the Scot.
Murray* 1-1 Basilashvili (*denotes next server)
The Georgian smashes the ball – one of the biggest hitters McEnroe has seen apparently – and gets to 30-0 with some powerful groundstrokes. But Murray is gutsy and gets it back to 30-30 before a sliced backhand fails to get over the net. A long forehand gifts Basilashvili his first service game.
Murray 1-0 Basilashvili* (*denotes next server)
Murray starts with an ace – not a bad way to say hello after four years. Basilashvili can hit it hard though and replies with a powerful backhand. But Murray is made of stern stuff (and a bit of metal these days…) and then sends down powerful first serves, two of them aces, to hold to 15.
John McEnroe is being a bit doom and gloom
Before the match gets under way the American spends about 10 minutes (but it seems like 24 hours…) telling everyone watching to basically ‘manage your expectations’ about Murray- think we got the message John…
The players are out on the court
And the crowd give Murray a standing ovation – no shock there, they love him.
The rain has gone, the roof is off
And we’re ready for Murray’s return.
John McEnroe, on the BBC, is worried for Murray
“I am super pumped up for him but I am also super concerned for him…I was never the same player after a hip injury. [Murray] relied so much on his movement, on his great defence. How long can he go on being No.100 in the world when he should be top six? I give him the edge in this match – I hope he goes well.”
On his last appearance in 2017 when he reached the last-eight on one hip…
“Not sure how I did that to be honest. A lot has happened since then – I am looking forward to it. It’s great there will be crowds.”
On his current injury woes…
“There’s a been a bit of discomfort. At Queens it was manageable. My hope is that it stays that way – gives me a good chance to go out there and compete.”
On practising with Roger Federer as part of his preparation for this week…
“I enjoyed it – it was great.”
On how long he will play for…
“I’ll do it until I can’t anymore or not enjoying it. I am still playing good tennis and I have no plans to stop soon.”
So once again we hear it from the horse’s mouth – he has no plans to stop soon. Regardless of that, however, expect him to be asked the ‘when you are retiring?’ question at every press conference and opportunity until the day he does actually hang up his racquet for good
A big return like this deserves it’s own tweet
A bit of info on Nikoloz Basilashvili
The Georgian world No.28 has spent much of the last year embroiled in a legal case over allegations of domestic abuse.
Basilashvili – whose case remains unresolved – is the No.24 seed, and a man Murray has never faced on the tour before. He is known for his powerful strokeplay and his emotionless expression.
The immediate reaction of Barry Cowan, the former British No3 offering radio commentary on the draw, was that “This is a good draw for Murray, because Basilashvili is a great ball-striker who isn’t so comfortable when you change the pace. And we know how good Murray is at doing that.”
This year’s Wimbledon has it’s first shock in the men’s draw
This couldn’t be Murray last Wimbledon appearance, could it?
According to the man himself, that’s unlikely so long as he is able to play and is still enjoying it. BUT as our very own Simon Briggs points out it’s not beyond the realm of possibilities that Britain’s greatest player of the modern era won’t play in SW19 next year.
It is just that his body – now bolstered by a metal hip joint – is rather less enthusiastic. The four years since his last singles appearance at Wimbledon have delivered an agonising saga of operations, scans and last-minute withdrawals. Even he has started to admit that “I’m always telling myself that each match might be my last”.
It is possible that we will see Murray larking about and hitting ’tweeners in some future “legends” event. Who knows, he might even turn to doubles. But from a strictly competitive point of view, tomorrow evening’s match against Nikoloz Basilashvili – the 24th seed – has the uncomfortable feeling of a full stop.
The main man returns
Such is the association between Andy Murray and Wimbledon that it seems strange to think that this will be his first singles appearance at the All England Club for four years.
Having won it in 2016 he came back in 2017 and somehow made it to the last-eight virtually with the use of only one hip. Since then he hasn’t played in SW19.
Also since then the two-time Wimbledon champion has undergone a number of operations, fitness battles and is now the proud owner of a metal hip. He’s at 118 in the world rankings – which is is quite high considering how little he’s played – and turns up more in hope than expectation.
Not that the Murray-mania brigade will take much notice. For them, understandably considering how much joy he’s brought them and British sport over the past 15 years, he’s always No.1 when he steps out on court.
He is up against Nikoloz Basilashvili, a powerful baseliner who recently reached the semi-finals of Halle, Germany’s main grass-court event. He is also the 24th seed and is a real threat to Murray getting past the first round.
As our very won Simon Briggs writes: “If Basilashvili exerts his extraordinary weight of shot, he will send Murray out of the tournament in dispiriting style, chasing left and right at the back of the court and throwing up desperate lobs which – for the most part – will be clunked away for winners. An action replay, in other words, of Murray’s recent loss to Matteo Berrettini at Queen’s.”
But there is another scenario which sees the world world No.1 get past the Georgian. Briggs continues: “Murray uses his supreme hand skills to keep the ball low over the net and even lower off the turf, skidding through with venomous backspin. These slices could disrupt Basilashvili’s rhythm and leave him spraying unforced errors like confetti.”
Either way it’s very hard to predict what will happen and there is even the possibility that this could be Murray’s final appearance at Wimbledon (more on that later…).
Stay here to find out what happens on Murray’s return to Wimbledon.