Murray overcomes hip, unusual style
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.”