Daily Express

Time to get in a hurry says Murray

- Tony Banks Tony Banks

ANDY MURRAY has vowed to stop his early-round dithering at Grand Slams and be more ruthless in putting away his opponents.

The British No1 lost in the French Open final last month to Novak Djokovic in a gruelling four sets.

But it was the two five-set epics, each running over three hours, that Murray had to play in the first and second rounds in Paris that Djokovic’s coach Boris Becker felt had taken their toll by the time he got to the final.

In all, Murray spent five hours more on court in battling his way to the final than Djokovic. He was two sets down to qualifier Radek Stepanek in the first round before pulling through in three hours and 41 minutes, and then lost the second and third sets against wild card Mathias Bourgue before coming through, taking only seven minutes less time.

Now Murray, who has had the issue reinforced by coach Ivan Lendl in the last two weeks, is determined not to mess about.

Murray faces fellow Briton Liam Broady, ranked 235 in the world, as he opens his campaign today, and he said: “My job is to learn from the French Open, and one of the things I could have done better there is start the tournament quicker.

“Those first few days were tough psychologi­cally and physically and although I recovered from it, I was up against Richard Gasquet in the quarterfin­als and I ended up being on court for another hour and 20 longer than I needed to in that match as well.

“I need to start quicker at Wimbledon. There was more to the final than just the five hours extra that I spent on the court, but obviously to win against Novak, or any of the best players, the fresher you are, the easier it becomes.

“But there are no guarantees that even if I was fresh that I would have won in Paris.”

Broady, who this time last year was virtually living out of the back of his car as he reached the second round, joked that he would try to get inside his Davis Cup team-mate’s head before the match.

“If I see Andy practising I’ll just throw random words at him, maybe heckle him,” he said. “Andy is a friend, but for me it’s business as usual. When we go on court we don’t know each other.

“I am definitely in better shape now than I was last year. And I am playing better.”

British No 2 Aljaz Bedene faces Gasquet, the 10th seed, in another tough test for home hopes, but things look brighter in the women’s draw.

British No1 Johanna Konta, seeded 16th, is in action against Monica Puig of Puerto Rico, the world No 43, and No 2 Heather Watson faces Annika Beck of Germany in another winnable match.

Tara Moore takes on Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium and Katie Swan meets Timea Babos of Hungary. JAMES WARD was staring humiliatio­n full in the face on Centre Court. Novak Djokovic was in full flow. But the British No 3 fought back to give the world No 1 a major scare.

Djokovic eventually won 6-0, 7-6, 6-4 to book his place in the second round as he attempts to defend his crown, but Ward’s gutsy fightback from the very brink of embarrassm­ent was what lingered in the memory last night.

It was a clash of the best player in the world against the man ranked 177th, and it started like it. Djokovic rattled through the first nine games in rapid time as Ward struggled to get any kind of grip on the match. The roar of appreciati­on from the Centre Court crowd for the Brit had turned to an ominous, worried silence at 6-0, 3-0 down.

Then the fightback began. It never seemed likely to succeed but, having saved face, Ward said: “I’m proud of myself the way I turned it around because it could have been ugly.

“I actually thought in the first set it was a bit unfair that it was six-love. I was in some of those games.

“You’ve got to back yourself, got to keep trying. The more the games go on, you start panicking, especially against a guy who is making so many balls. Everything you hit is coming back.

“You have just got to keep going and give yourself a chance. I picked my level up and got the crowd involved.”

Djokovic wobbled, and admitted afterwards he had lost concentrat­ion in the second set as Ward’s serving picked up and he clawed it back to 3-3, prompting a wag in the crowd to yell: “He’s only human James!”

At 5-5 Ward, racing to the net and growing in confidence as his drop shots finally began to come off and the crowd found their voice, actually had two break points but could take neither. The great Serb, bidding for his fourth Wimbledon title, rallied and rediscover­ed his game.

Djokovic won the tiebreak, broke Ward’s serve in the second game of the third set, and this time did not let up despite some courageous battling by Ward. His composure regained, Djokovic served with his usual power and returned with unerring venom, and closed out the match.

But Ward left with his head held high. “When Centre Court is full up and everyone is cheering for you, and you’re playing against the world No 1, it’s a day you remember for the rest of your life,” he said.

“I’m proud of my efforts. I didn’t want to get back home and regret anything.

Djokovic, whose only warmup outing on grass was an exhibition match at Boodles, admitted that at one point the British Davis Cup hero had him rattled.

“I maybe dropped the concentrat­ion a little bit. But credit to him for serving well,” he said.

At least Ward’s Davis Cup team-mate Dan Evans added to Marcus Willis’s joy by coming through a tough battle with Jan-Lennard Struff Germany 6-3, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5.

Evans said: “It was a tough game but I felt OK even during the second set. I enjoyed it out there.

“I did have a slip and I hurt my groin a little but I am sure I will be fine. It’s my first win here. It’s a great tournament and every English player dreams of winning here.”

It was a familiar story for the rest. Kyle Edmund went down 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 to Adrian Mannarino of France, Alex Ward lost 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 to Belgium’s David Goffin and Brydan Klein lost 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Nicolas Mahut of France. of

 ?? Picture: PAUL CHILDS ?? HEAD HELD HIGH: Ward is given a great reception after his gallant defeat to Djokovic
Picture: PAUL CHILDS HEAD HELD HIGH: Ward is given a great reception after his gallant defeat to Djokovic
 ??  ?? HELLO AGAIN: Murray wants to be more ruthless
HELLO AGAIN: Murray wants to be more ruthless
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