herald

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Murray: no roof excuse

Scot battles through as Serena, Federer and Nadal begin SW19 bids

Andy Murray again found life tougher than expected under the Centre Court roof at Wimbledon but the British number one's only complaint was that it makes things too perfect.

The world number four (pictured) was a heavy favourite to beat Daniel Gimeno-Traver in round one but he was given a real battle for a set and a half by an opponent playing inspired tennis, before reeling off 15 games in a row to triumph 4-6 6-3 6-0 6-0.

It was Murray's second time playing under the roof after he and Stanislas Wawrinka contested the first complete match indoors in 2009.

On that occasion the Scot struggled with the conditions and needed five sets to come through, but he insisted the experience is different rather than unpleasant.

Murray said: "Last time I made a comment on it and for some reason it came out (in the press) as I hated it -- I never said that. The roof changes the conditions.

"If anything it's almost too perfect. There's no wind, no sun, no elements to contend with. It's different grass-court tennis.

"It definitely slows the court down a little bit. But it was a good match. I thought it was a good standard of match and a good atmosphere in there as well."

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were set to launch their Wimbledon campaigns today -- with defending champion Rafael Nadal insisting it is far too early to contemplate facing either man later in the tournament.

World number one Nadal beat American journeyman Michael Russell in his first-round match yesterday, coming through 6-4 6-2 6-2, and will now face unseeded American Ryan Sweeting.

That is the only contest the 25-year-old is allowing himself to think about, knowing full well that one slip-up could see him back on his home island of Majorca while the likes of Federer, Djokovic and Murray fight it out for the title.

"My biggest opponent now is Sweeting," Nadal said, when asked which of the rest of the world's top four he feared the most.

"I am focused on my part of the draw. I'm focused on myself. To play against Djokovic or Federer can only be in the final, Andy in the semi-final.

"Let's talk about tomorrow. Let's not talk about 10 or 12 days' time, because I don't know if I am here or fishing in Majorca."

Serena Williams was set to begin the defence of her Wimbledon title against France's Aravane Rezai on Centre Court today.

Williams will be making only her second appearance since retaining her All England Club crown 12 months ago after recovering from a serious foot injury and blood clots on her lungs.

The 29-year-old meets Rezai, the world number 61 who has never progressed beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam event.

Williams watched elder sister Venus book her place in the second round with a 6-3 6-1 victory over Akgul Amanmuradova of Uzbekistan yesterday.

The five-time Wimbledon champion is playing only her second tournament since withdrawing from the Australian Open with a hip problem and improved as the match progressed.

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