Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray spearheads day of wins for Britain

Andy Murray thrashes Nikolay Davydenko on Centre Court as four Britons triumphed on Day Two at the All England Club

andy murray
Andy Murray eased past Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets Photo: Marianne Bevis

andy murray

As the bottom half of the men’s draw began its progress to the final, it was hard to know where to look first. This was a section packed with opening-round storylines.

All four winners of the grass season’s warm up events were in action: Marin Cilic, Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick and David Ferrer.

Rafael Nadal was attempting to continue his record of never losing a first-round match in a Grand Slam and, despite dropping the first four games, his run remained unbroken.

Mardy Fish, one of the stories of 2011 as he made a surge, aged 30, into the top-10 for the first time, was playing his first competitive match since April, having undergone surgery for a heart condition.

And former champion Lleyton Hewitt was making his first appearance as a wild card in his 14th Wimbledon. As ever, his green and gold supporters filled Centre Court with their enthusiastic singing, but Hewitt fell to another crowd-pleaser, a Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in scintillating form.

But the day came down to one man as far as the home crowd was concerned. Andy Murray was scheduled to face former world No3 Nikolay Davydenko for a 10th time. Yet the burden of expectation he carried was far heavier than his opponent.

No matter that Murray had never lost an opening match at Wimbledon and had reached the semis here for the last three years, nor that he had three times reached a Grand Slam final. Nothing would satisfy this champion-hungry crowd but a winner and, preferably, a Wimbledon winner.

Against Davydenko this time, there was a little score to settle, too. The Russian had joined in the background noise from Virginia Wade and Tommy Haas about Murray’s on-court demeanour, saying:

“Sometimes he walks on court, he looks tired, like he doesn’t want to run any more and then he runs like an animal. He has done that all his career…Maybe it is a special Scottish thing.”

And to be honest, it seemed to give Murray even more determination.

Davydenko opened serve but the cheers for Murray began before anyone had hit a ball. Such is the desire to see a home man win at this most English of sporting events that the Centre Court crowd even applauded the two errors from Davydenko that opened the match.

The Russian’s netted balls helped Murray to an early break point in the very first game but the Russian held him off. Murray’s opener was altogether more convincing: two aces and a hold in little more than a minute.

Davydenko again faced break point and this time could not resist. Murray was 2-1 up, soon 3-1 up, and so focused that he was already fist-pumping. In two straight games, he hit near identical cross-court forehands for outright winners—and the crowd was more than impressed.

Three more break points and a blistering backhand took it to 4-1. A hold of serve to 15 and it was 5-1. Davydenko upped his attack to stay in contention but such were Murray’s defensive skills that he made one more break and the set was done, 6-1, in a neat 30 minutes.

The second set got off to an even sharper start. A quick opening service game was followed by an immediate break to 15—finished with an arrow-true forehand passing shot. It mattered not what Davydenko threw at him: drop shot, Murray was there; slice across court, he returned with interest; big forehand, he was on it. Murray held serve with a 133 ace to lead 3-0 before the Russian got on the scoreboard.

As they changed ends, with Murray well on his way to the second set 4-1, the results board set up a running drama of its own. First Jamie Murray and his partner had won their doubles; next Elena Baltacha had taken a three-set victory and finally, James Ward had battled to a five-set win over Pablo Andujar. Every one of them drew an increasingly rousing cheer and appeared to fill Murray with even more vim.

As Murray roared out ever-bigger forehands to break again, the Centre Court faithful could barely contain themselves. A sequence of ace, a 133 serve and, a forehand winner was broken only by a backhand down the line from Davydenko, before yet another Murray winner, this time on the backhand line, took the set 6-1—and this time in under 30 minutes.

The Mexican wave started and Murray continued. The skies may have been increasingly cloudy and grey but the mood was pure sunshine. Before the first hour was up, Murray was a break up in the third.

Now it seemed merely a race to see whether Murray could finish things more quickly than Roger Federer had done the day before. When the Russian held serve, that target was missed and the two men edged beyond 80 minutes as Davydenko found some of his trademark flat, fast cross-court angles to hold on a little longer.

Murray had match points against the Russian’s serve at 5-3, but eventually had to serve it out. He did so with an ace, a touch volley, and two serve winners. It eventually took 95 minutes but it was impressive stuff—just six unforced errors to 27 winners— and he kissed his hand to the heavens and to an ecstatic home crowd.

You may have thought he had won the title rather than taking just his first step, but in this form and with this focus and determination, it was certainly a very fine start.

He afterwards affirmed how special the place and the win was: “It’s a very special tournament, special court, I’m always motivated to play here and do well.”

Anne Keothavong then became the fourth Briton to win on Day Two after easing past Spain’s Laura Pous-Tio 6-3 6-3.

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