Andy Murray still has to win five more matches to claim Olympic gold but on today’s evidence no player will be more determined to reach the podium next Sunday. Three weeks after losing to Roger Federer in his first Wimbledon final, Murray produced a focused performance full of passion to beat Stanislas Wawrinka, 6-3, 6-3 in his opening singles match.
“I’m really up for the tournament,” Murray said after overcoming the Swiss under the Centre Court roof for a second time, having won in five sets here three years ago. “I was saying last Tuesday, when the Olympics were getting closer, that I was so pumped to play that I wanted the tournament to start the next day.”
Murray took charge from the moment he saved a break point in the opening game. The world No 4 won 29 out of 33 points when his first serve found the target, made just 12 unforced errors to Wawrinka’s 32 and struck the ball confidently throughout.
Having taken the first set thanks to a break in the eighth game, Murray broke twice in the second. He next plays Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen or India’s Somdev Devvarman, whose match on an outside court was disrupted by the frequent rain showers.
Shutting the roof always creates an atmosphere of its own and yesterday’s crowd were in particularly boisterous mood, greeting Murray’s winners with thunderous cheers and applause. “I’ve played so many matches on there, I love the court,” Murray said. “For a lot of the people that were there today, it would have been their first visit to Wimbledon. They were obviously very, very excited.”
There were times when the rain fell so heavily on the roof that the players could barely hear the ball being struck. Murray also had to deal with a temperamental scoreboard that kept flashing during his opening service game and with a wet patch near his seat where rain appeared to be dripping through a hole in the roof.
Federer, in a show of support for Wawrinka, his doubles partner, watched the whole match. “Roger himself will tell you that when he plays, when guys like Laver, Sampras or Borg are watching, it makes it a bit more of an occasion, makes it a bit more special,” Murray said. “I have huge amounts of respect for what Roger's been able to do, so it was nice having him come to watch.”
Meanwhile Murray said the support he had received from the public since the Wimbledon final had been “overwhelming”. He added: “I'm not kind of used to that. I understand that sometimes in the past, it wasn't always that easy to get behind me because on the court I didn't look particularly happy. But I think during Wimbledon and the build-up to the tournament, I felt different on the court. I felt like I'd grown up a bit. I felt more mature. I felt like my demeanour was better.
“The support I got after the final made a huge difference to me, to my confidence. It made a difference to my practice after that loss because I wanted to get back on the practice court straightaway.”