Murray feeling great after emphatic start
Andy insists he isn't in much pain despite visible limp
It is safe to assume that Andy Murray has rarely met as flamboyant a player as Alexander Bublik, but it is an even greater certainty that the 20-year-old Kazakh has never faced an opponent of such consistent brilliance as the World No.1.
Bublik treated the Centre Court crowd to some outrageous shot-making, but Murray began the defence of his title in emphatic fashion, his progress slowed only by two rain breaks. In winning 6-1 6-4 6-2, the Scot maintained his record of never having lost in the first round.
Murray, who will meet another unpredictable entertainer when he takes on Germany's Dustin Brown in the second round, showed few signs of any discomfort from the sore hip which troubled him last week.
Between points there were times when Murray appeared to be limping, but in the rallies he seemed to be moving as freely as he has always done.
"I feel pretty good," Murray said afterwards. "The last few days I had been feeling better each day. Obviously getting out on the match court is a little bit different. The intensity's a little bit higher, but also the adrenalin can numb some pains. I moved well and I thought I did pretty well for a first match."
Murray said if he looked awkward in the way he moved he did not think it had anything to do with his hip.
"I'm not in a lot of pain when I'm walking," he said. "Whether it's something that's just happened these last couple of weeks - subconsciously because my hip's been sore - I have no idea. But I'm not hurting between the points."
Murray's build-up has been far from ideal, but he is hoping that he can play his way into this tournament.
There were some good signs. Murray showed some lovely touches, combining delicate slices and drop shots with some thumping passes both cross-court and down the line, but it was the consistency of his hitting that impressed the most. He made only 10 unforced errors, compared with his opponent's tally of 35.
"I played pretty well," Murray said. "It wasn't the easiest match because of the way he plays. There's not loads of rhythm. He's doing different stuff on each point."
Murray admitted that he had been a little nervous. He said: "I hadn't been able to do as much as I would have liked and I didn't know the guy. In the first match at a Slam there are always a few extra nerves.
"But once I got out there and got the early break and saved a few break points in my first service game I felt good."
On the very first point, World No.135 Bublik charged into the net behind a big forehand and put away a confident volley.
By the second point Bublik was indulging his passion for drop shots, and when Murray double-faulted to go 15-40 down it seemed that his opponent might be about to make a sensational start. Murray, however, served his way out of trouble and went on to take the opening set in just half an hour.
Bublik had shown some fine touches, but the Kazakh was broken again in the opening game of the second set. It proved to be the only break in the set, though Murray had to recover from 0-40 down when he served at 5-4.
Play in the third set was delayed by a total of 43 minutes, and Bublik dropped his serve again in the very first game after two successive double faults. He had a chance to fight back in the fourth game but netted a forehand.
When Bublik served at 2-4, Murray broke again as the Kazakh was unable to deal with some potent returns. Murray converted his second match point in the following game with a clever forehand into the corner. After an hour and 44 minutes it was as good a start as he could have imagined.
Brown, who beat Rafael Nadal here two years ago, secured his meeting with Murray by beating Portugal's Joao Sousa 3-6 7-6 6-4 6-4.
Murray said that Brown would be a similar opponent to Bublik in that he was also unpredictable and went for his shots. "He has a lot of power," Murray said. "Dustin plays a lot more up at the net than Bublik. He tends to come out with some great shots."
Murray was asked for his views about the recent news that his Davis Cup colleague, Dan Evans, had tested positive for cocaine.
"It will be a difficult time for him, but he put himself in that position," Murray said.
"The rules are very clear. He broke those rules and deserves his suspension, however long that will be.
"You make your decisions. He's obviously made a really, really bad one there."
Independent News Service