Mur­ray over­comes hip, un­usual style

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS -

LON­DON — Nei­ther a nag­ging in­jury to his left hip nor a brief rain de­lay seemed to pose any chal­lenge to

Andy Mur­ray. The top-seeded Mur­ray opened the de­fense of his Wimbledon ti­tle with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Alexan­der Bub­lik of Kaza­khstan on Mon­day in the open­ing round.

Mur­ray, whose only com­pet­i­tive grass-court ap­pear­ance was a first-round loss at Queen’s last month, showed no ef­fects from an in­jury that caused him to call off two ex­hi­bi­tion matches last week.

Al­though the 134th-ranked Bub­lik’s ec­cen­tric style of play, built on drop shots and slices, tested Mur­ray’s mo­bil­ity, he coun­tered with his de­fen­sive game and took ad­van­tage of his op­po­nent’s er­rors.

The 20-year-old Bub­lik fin­ished with 35 un­forced er­rors to Mur­ray’s 10. He also had 12 dou­ble-faults.

“My hip felt good,” Mur­ray said.

“It’s a lit­tle bit sore,

but I was mov­ing re­ally good on the court to­day. You know, that’s the most im­por­tant thing. If you’re in a lit­tle bit of pain, but you can still run as you nor­mally do, that doesn’t af­fect how you play. It’s when it’s af­fect­ing your move­ment and some of the shots that you play when it be­comes a prob­lem. To­day, you know, cer­tainly wasn’t the case at all.”

The vic­tory in­cluded a 33-minute rain de­lay. Mur­ray was lead­ing Bub­lik by two sets and en­ter­ing the third game of the third set when play was sus­pended.

Even Bub­lik, a lucky loser in qual­i­fy­ing who was play­ing in his sev­enth tour-level match, seemed re­signed to his fate. He joked to Mur­ray dur­ing the de­lay that they were go­ing to stand around for an hour only to play 15 more min­utes.

“He’s phys­i­cally in­cred­i­ble,” Bub­lik said. “If he was strug­gling with in­jury and

he’s run­ning like this, imag­ine how he’s go­ing to play when he has no prob­lem.”

Mur­ray was ready for Bub­lik’s un­ortho­dox style from the start. He an­swered his op­po­nent’s drop shot with one of his own to pick up a point in the first game of the first set. And later, he won the first game of the sec­ond set by at­tack­ing the net with a sharp fore­hand vol­ley.

He even man­aged to re­turn Bub­lik’s dive vol­ley in the sev­enth game of the third set, drilling it back to force break point, which he also won, as his op­po­nent strug­gled to get back to his feet.

Up next for Mur­ray is Dustin Brown, a Ger­man who came from be­hind to de­feat Joao Sousa in four sets in the first round and has a sim­i­lar, yet more struc­tured, game as Bub­lik.

That should be fine for Mur­ray, who han­dled the first test of the hip well enough.

“I moved well,” Mur­ray said. “So yeah, for a first match, con­sid­er­ing how I was feel­ing five, six days ago, it was re­ally pos­i­tive.”


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