Murray shakes off nerves in Wimbledon opener
If Andy Murray plays like this again, he won't win Wimbledon this year — and he'll struggle to even get to the final.
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But after a tense, uneven performance from the No. 3 seed, Murray moved on to round two with a 7-5, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-4 win over Robert Kendrick, who was left to wonder how much more he has to offer.
The 29-year-old American certainly gave it his all and came up with some blockbuster winners as well as his usual ration of powerful serves. Nor was he afraid to fling himself through the air as Murray tried to beat him with forehand cross-court passers.
Mostly Kendrick dived in vain but on one occasion he raised the crowd from its state of transfixed anxiety with a spectacular effort that sent the ball looping back over the net for the perfect dive volley. Then, on leaving the court, he decided to offer up one more example by suddenly diving forward in slalom style, much like European soccer stars do when celebrating a goal.
The match had followed an uneven path with Murray breaking in the opening game only to drop serve and have to break again before serving out in less-than-convincing fashion. In the second set, Kendrick unleashed one haymaker after another off a forehand that was just as likely to sail yards out of court as come up with scything winners. Murray could do little about it, especially as his own serve was erratic and his usual ability to hit clinical backhand winners deserted him. He never got control of the tiebreak and suddenly it was one set all.
Inevitably, Kendrick's Wild West style was going to get him into trouble and, in his quiet, unspectacular way, Murray was able to find a path through the third set by hitting one more shot than his opponent, as he can, over and over again.