By Ossian Shine
LONDON (Reuters) – Far from being a lame-duck champion waiting to be dispatched, Britain’s Andy Murray hit Wimbledon running and looks pretty much 100 percent fit, said former world number one Mats Wilander.
Murray hadn’t played a match since a first-round defeat at Queen’s last month, having skipped some warm-up exhibitions, but he still smashed Kazakh qualifier Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-4 6-2 on Centre Court.
Wilander told Reuters reports of the Scot’s ailing body seemed very wide of the mark.
“If Murray was injured he would not be playing here at all,” Wilander said in the grounds of the All England Club. “I think because he is out there and playing he is 100 percent fit. Or thereabouts … nobody is ever 100 percent, but he is there or thereabouts.
“In any case, the adrenaline of playing Wimbledon today will have completely washed away any little thing. He looked really good.”
Murray delivered the same message. “I felt good. I moved well,” the top seed told reporters. “So, yeah, for a first match, considering how I was feeling five, six days ago, it was really positive.”
Observers remarking that he seemed to be hobbling, or in discomfort, between points were off the mark, Murray said.
“I don’t know if that’s something that’s come over the last couple of weeks when my hip’s been sore. I’ve always done it, and everyone is sort of saying that I’m walking that way because of my hip. But I have no idea,” he said.
“I’m not in a lot of pain when I’m walking, that’s for sure … I’m certainly not hurting between the points.”
Next up for Murray is dynamic serve-volleyer Dustin Brown. The German’s claim to fame is having beaten Rafa Nadal here two years ago.
On that occasion, Brown hustled Nadal out of it with his attacking, all-action style. But Murray will be a different prospect, Wilander said.
Murray was as comfortable as can be on the south-west London lawns, said Wilander, who was in London leading Eurosport’s Wimbledon coverage.
“He obviously loves to play on grass, it looks so natural to him,” he said. “Playing on grass is going to help him a lot.
“If this was the Australian Open or the U.S. Open, I may have more concerns, but grass is the most natural surface to him.
“He moves so well on it, looks so comfortable … I don’t think there would be any problem for the two weeks.”
(Editing by Larry King)