Spectacular start as Murray returns to form with a bang

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The Independent Online

Andy Murray has always stressed the importance of saving his best tennis for the biggest occasions and the 25-year-old Scot put some difficult weeks behind him to make a hugely impressive start to his campaign yesterday. The problems with his back, the criticisms of former players who doubted the seriousness of his physical problems and a defeat in his only grass-court warm-up were all forgotten as Murray beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and 35 minutes.

Murray, who will next play Dudi Sela or Ivo Karlovic, played some stunning tennis. In particular his forehand was in wonderful shape. The world No 4 hit big forehands to which Davydenko had no answer.

The Russian, pictured, is not the biggest server and Murray broke him six times. The Scot is known as one of the best returners and he kept Davydenko on the back foot.

Murray made only four unforced errors and served well. He served 10 aces and one double fault and dropped only 10 points. Davydenko did not force a break point.

The Scot's backhand slice has always been one of his most devastating weapons on grass and again he used it to good effect.

"The first two sets were very good," Murray said. "I got off to a great start and then relaxed. There had been a lot of waiting around since Queen's. I've been itching to get going. I've put a lot of hard work in. I was hitting the ball very cleanly from the beginning and I used my slice well. That was a very important shot tonight. It always is against him."

Murray has reached the semi-finals here in the last three years. "The last couple of weeks were hard because I've been desperate to get the tournament going," he said. "It's never easy to play the first round at Wimbledon but it was certainly a good start."

Davydenko held his serve in the opening game thanks to two aces, one of which saved a break point, but Murray then took command, winning nine games in a row. At 0-3 down in the second set Davydenko held serve again, but Murray was quickly back in charge and broke again in the first game of the third set. The Russian showed some resilience by holding serve four times, but Murray was not to be denied.

The Scot acknowledged the crowd and was clearly delighted. There will be bigger challenges ahead but he could hardly have made a better start.