Wimbledon: Andy Murray hits back in fine style after early scare
The job was done just before 9.00pm. Andy Murray smiled for the Centre Court crowd, leaving the stage in contented mood. And with a touch of relief.
The Scot may have won the last 15 games against Daniel Gimeno-Traver to ease through his opening test at Wimbledon 2011 last night, but the first 16 were certainly a cause for concern in his 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 victory.
The Spaniard overpowered a tentative Murray early on. With the rain pelting down outside, you wondered if the Centre Court roof was going to cave in on the Britain's challenge for his first Grand Slam title.
Dropping the first set was a shock to Murray's system and to the fans, grateful to be in the arena and able to watch some tennis with the poor weather causing play to be abandoned early for the day elsewhere.
Not for the first time at SW19 all eyes were on the 24-year-old, who has taken over from Tim Henman as Britain's great white hope.
All eyes that is except on Murray Mound/Henman Hill (take your pick) where due to health and safety fears, spectators weren't allowed to watch on the big screen. Jeers and an exodus followed that announcement.
The start may have been a worry, but the way Murray finished the match was flawless, breaking serve late in the second set to take control before flashing numerous winners past his opponent, who looked shot to pieces after his early efforts.
Winning the final two sets 6-0, 6-0 was as emphatic as you can get and the crowd rose to him, creating a fabulous atmosphere. It always seems so much louder when the roof is on.
As for playing undercover, Murray, said: “It's almost too perfect, with no wind, no sun or no elements to contend with.”
Not known for cracking jokes with the media, he told a funny story in his post match press conference about being woken up at 7.00am recently for a drug test.
“It's very intrusive going to the toilet and they are staring at you in your home,” said the deadpan Scot.
In the semi-finals, Murray is seeded to meet Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal, who swept to a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 first round victory over American Michael Russell.
Nadal was 4-2 down in the opening set, but once he found his rhythm the 10 time Grand Slam winner was unstoppable, as his mum and dad proudly looked on from the Centre Court Royal Box.
The Spanish ace was happy with his display, though seemed more excited with the show put on by his friend and now US Open winner Rory McIlroy the previous night.
Nadal revealed: “I stayed up until one in the morning to watch Rory win the golf. It was fantastic, it was exciting and he deserved it.”
Nadal, who next plays American Ryan Sweeting, texted McIlroy to congratulate him on his first Major triumph and is hoping to see him in person at Wimbledon later in the tournament.
Murray didn't watch McIlroy to the glorious end — he lasted until the 15th — and was also impressed by the Ulsterman.
“The way he dealt with everything was fantastic, the way he responded (after Augusta) was excellent. He'll go on to become one of the best golfers we've seen,” said Murray.
“In terms of tennis and golf though they are different. You are always in control of golf, but I wasn't in control in my first round match for a set and a half though I played very well in the last two sets.”