Wimbledon—London, England – Perhaps it is a little cynical to think the returning men’s singles champion Andy Murray milking the crowd was more along the lines of “Enjoy it while it lasts” but it was refreshing to see him acknowledge the phenomenal achievement of last summer.
It was something that Murray admitted himself after his match:
“One of the things she said was she tried to take in the atmosphere and the experience of walking out on the court as the defending champion. You never know if you’ll get the chance to do it again.”
But there was a match to be won and Murray had to start in style, as the Centre Court was still a little slow to fill up. He looked to be moving well, hitting sharply and soon was up that all important break advantage at the first change of ends.
Goffin crept onto the scoreboard but it was an all too brief appearance in the first set as Murray kept him comfortably at bay.
With the conditions cooling a little, Goffin put up much more of a fight, but the Belgian was having real difficulty holding his balance – slipping a couple of times on the lush grass. That being said he was still capable of staying with the defending champion in the second set, this time with just a single break to separate them.
In the third set Goffin tried to apply a little more pressure, but Murray was doing just enough (even with his trademark muttering) to keep his nose ahead. He closed out the straight sets win 6-1 6-4 7-5.
In terms of the way I struck the ball today, it was a good start,” Murray said. “I was nervous today, I was nervous yesterday and walking to the court today, it brought back a lot of nice memories. I got a nice round of applause but once you sit down in the chair, it is time to move on from last year.”
And move on he does – he faces Blaz Rola, who beat Spain’s Pablo Andujar, and came up with a novel way of how not to mark his arrival on Centre Court.
He said: “When I saw the draw, when I saw that potentially I can play the second round against Andy, my motivation was off the charts. I’m very, very happy that I actually get a chance to play him, especially here.”
The chances are it will be another major court for Murray, which will be a new experience for Rola.
“Maybe just go up in the stands for a couple minutes, look it up to see how it is. I don’t think I ever played in a bigger stadium. Hopefully I don’t poop my pants and don’t play well.”
Meanwhile last year’s returning finalist proceeded to make mincemeat out of his first round opponent. Novak Djokovic, who is the top seed and indeed many people’s favorite to win this year, raced through the first set 6-0 prompting the sympathetic crowd to try and rally Golubev to getting a game on the board.
It is rare moments like these when the crowd can almost turn against the overwhelming favourite as forehands thumped into the net by the almost always inch-perfect Serbian met with rousing applause in the cooling evening.
Eventually Golubev found some range and managed to make the final set a little more competitive, but in the final analysis it was a mere five games he took off the 2011 champion.
While we are on the subject of champions, Venus Williams made a winning start out on Court 2, but when all said and done, few thought they would ever see her grace a court again, much less come through a three-setter.
She said: I have nothing to prove, nothing to hide, nothing to lose. So for me it’s about continually playing better and getting back up every single time when things might not go my way. It’s not going to go the way of 127 people in this draw. It’s going to go the way of one person. So you just keep going.”