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“Ruthless” Murray storms into Wimbledon second round

  • Matt Trollope

If Andy Murray hopes to go deep at this year’s Wimbledon championships, conserving energy is key.

Which is what made Tuesday’s victory on Centre Court so encouraging.

The two-time champion swatted aside fellow Brit Ryan Peniston for the loss of just four games; he completed the 6-3 6-0 6-1 win in two hours under the roof on a rainy day in London.

It was his most dominant Grand Slam performance, in terms of the number of games dropped, in nine years. His previous best was overwhelming Blaz Rola 6-1 6-1 6-0 in the second round of the 2014 Championships.

In a period of his career during which efficient wins have been elusive, Murray was especially pleased with what transpired against Peniston.

“Obviously … at a lot of the majors that I played in the last few years, I've had lots of pretty long matches early on in the tournament. Yes, you can recover from them, but … I've had multiple long matches one after another,” said Murray, now a father of four playing in his 19th season on tour.

READ MORE: Battle for world No.1 to continue at Wimbledon

“Any time you get the chance to finish a match quickly and can conserve some energy is a really positive thing. It's not necessarily confidence that I gain from it, it just means that hopefully the deeper I go in the tournament the fresher I will be.

“As the match (against Peniston) went on, unforced errors, I cut them out. I was pretty ruthless at the beginning of the second and third sets. There was no sort of dip in intensity or anything. I got ahead early in those sets, did well.

“So, yeah, I was pleased with everything, apart from the beginning.”

Andy Murray waves to the Centre Court crowd following his first-round win over Ryan Peniston at Wimbledon. [Getty Images]

Before this tournament, Murray had won 10 matches at majors since returning to Grand Slam competition at the 2018 US Open, following the first of two hip surgeries.

He completed just one of those wins in straight sets. 

Half of those 10 wins extended the maximum five sets. 

It is perhaps no coincidence he has not progressed beyond the third round of a major in that time. The last time he did was six years ago, when he was a Wimbledon 2017 quarterfinalist.

“You don't plan and prepare for the matches that I had earlier this year in Australia or when I played Stefanos at the US Open, or whatever,” said Murray, referencing back-to-back five setters in the first two rounds of AO 2023, which left him depleted.

“I hope my matches don't go on that long. If they do, I've prepared well enough to be able to deal with them.”

Murray has indeed prepared well, and there is a growing feeling this Wimbledon could be the site of a magnificent career revival.

Playing with a slightly streamlined service motion, the world No.40 is one of the few players in the men’s field with genuine grass-court experience and comfort on the surface. 

The latest evidence for this was back-to-back ATP Challenger titles in Surbiton and Nottingham in the past month.

He is the only player in the field to have defeated four-time defending champion Novak Djokovic on grass, and the last to beat him on Wimbledon’s Centre Court, thanks to his victory in their 2013 final.

As Simon Rea, who coached Nick Kyrgios to the 2014 quarterfinals, said of Murray ahead of the tournament: “If he is to make a run deep in an event, this is the one.”

And Peniston echoed this sentiment. 

“I think the main thing that Andy did really well today was he was just relentless on every point,” he observed.

“He played really well today. Yeah, I think why not? Why can't he go and win it?”

Andy Murray defeated Ryan Peniston to reach the Wimbledon second round
Ryan Peniston on Andy Murray: "He was just relentless on every point." [Getty Images]

There is a long way to go. But next up for Murray is a match against either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Dominic Thiem – two extraordinary players, but both at their weakest on grass.

And while 36-year-old Murray rests, Tsitsipas and Thiem must return on Wednesday to complete their rain-delayed first-round match.

“I'm playing well enough to beat most of the players, I think, in the draw if I play well,” Murray said. 

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“Physically, I feel good … I feel absolutely fine right now.

“(But) my mind will be (focused only) on the next match on Thursday. Thiem and Tsitsipas both have great pedigree. Both played extremely well in the Slams over the years. Very experienced.”

Against Tsitsipas or Thiem, Murray will target a 200th Grand Slam match win.