July 3, 2017
Andy Murray and Venus Williams both began their Wimbledon 2017 campaigns confidently, despite significant distractions away from the tennis court.
For the world number one, the news that his wife Kim is pregnant with their second child has at least deflected some attention away from his hip injury.
Murray seemed fit and focused enough to get the job done in relatively straightforward style against Alexander Bublik of Russia. He won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 and only hit one sticky patch.
That was when Andy faced three break points as Bublik almost struck back for 5-5 in the second. But the eccentric underdog squandered his chances and made 35 unforced errors in all, to Murray’s 10.
That gave Andy a relatively pressure-free afternoon – just what the doctor ordered. Indeed the two rain interruptions provided a tougher a test to Murray’s tennis fluency than his game opponent.
It might not have been the greatest performance in the world from the Brit on his home ground in front of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. But it was definitely a step in the right direction.
On Kim’s pregnancy and the idea that family issues might ruin his concentration at Wimbledon this year, Murray joked: ‘I’ve had family ever since I started playing tennis, so I’m not going to be distracted. We’re both obviously very happy and looking forward to [the arrival when it comes].’
On his fitness, Murray said: ‘I’ve been feeling a little better every day. The adrenalin helps to numb any pains you might have.’
Andy will have to play at a higher level than this to win his third Wimbledon and equal the legendary Fred Perry.
But as an opener this was ideal against a young man clearly just determined to enjoy the occasion, whatever happened.
Bublik even tried to socialise with Murray during the contest. Murray revealed: ‘We were talking during the match when there was a rain delay, about Centre Court and the match. Unusual. He’s an unusual player and a character.’
Further down the line, Australian bad boy Nick Kyrgios might have been waiting to test Murray’s resolve, despite his own hip injury. But instead he is out of the tournament due to that same affliction.
‘I was doing everything I could to help it,’ said Kyrgios, who retired when he was already two sets down to Pierre-Hugues Herbert. ‘I’m obviously a little bit scared about the idea of surgery.’
Venus Williams probably had more reason than anyone to be distracted from her tennis, given the fact that she was involved in a fatal car crash recently, and declared herself to be ‘devastated and heartbroken.’
But she held her nerve during the key tie-break against Elise Mertens and came up with two incredible backhands to earn herself the set point she finally converted.
Williams then won through 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 and remains one of the contenders for the title, despite the long-term legal repercussions she is likely to suffer from that accident.
Even at the age of 37, and appearing in her 20th Wimbledon, Venus still looks the part and has the range of shots to go well into the second week. Then, as we all know, anything can happen.
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