Dominant Murray is left to fly the flag

No 3 seed serves up electrifying display on Centre Court to open his campaign – just don't mention the plight of his fellow British men

The waiting is over and Andy Murray is under way at last. Given the weight of public expectation, the last nine days since he played a match must have passed painfully slowly, but the 22-year-old Scot opened his Wimbledon campaign here last night in the only way that mattered. His 7-5, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Robert Kendrick provided only occasional reminders of the brilliance that has made him one of the favourites to win this year's Wimbledon, but there was barely a moment when the result was in doubt.

If the burden on Murray's shoulders grew with his first grass-court title at Queen's Club earlier this month, it has increased further with the burgeoning interest of a public who are starting to believe in his chances of ending Britain's 73-year wait for a male champion here. While Murray dismissed the idea that he would feel any extra pressure given the habitual failure of his fellow countrymen to provide any sort of support - the remaining British men all lost their first-round matches yesterday - it can hardly have helped.

Murray's return of serve was not as sharp as usual, his ground strokes lacked their usual reliability and there were occasions when he lapsed into the over-cautious mode that has sometimes proved his downfall in the past. Nevertheless, there was still plenty to admire in the world No 3's game. He hit 20 aces, found a decent rhythm on his backhand and gave several demonstrations of his electrifying speed around the court to earn a second-round meeting with the Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

If it was not a totally convincing victory, much of the credit had to go to Kendrick, a 29-year-old American for whom limited success has come comparatively late in life. The world No 76 enjoyed his finest moment when he took Rafael Nadal to five sets here three years ago and he was clearly determined to enjoy his rare opportunity in the sun. Kendrick threw himself around Centre Court, making several diving volleys, and treated the crowd to one last dive when he walked off at the end of the match.

The big-hitting Californian might have fancied he had a puncher's chance. He served well throughout and hit some huge winners, though he ultimately made too many errors.

"It was a tough match," Murray said afterwards. 'I was expecting him to come out and go for some big shots. He pulled some off at the end of the second set and he served very well for three sets."

It was a gloriously sunny afternoon, though you sensed that it will again take time for the Wimbledon public to warm to Murray. There was certainly little of the passion the crowd had shown in his last victory in this arena, when he came back from two sets down to beat Richard Gasquet in last year's fourth round.

For the first six games Kendrick made the mistake of hitting too many shots to the best backhand in world tennis. Murray broke in the very first game and did not drop a point on his own serve until the sixth. The Scot dropped his serve when leading 4-3, but broke again with some mighty backhand returns to lead 6-5 served out for the set.

There were no breaks of serve in the second set, but Murray did not look in danger until he served a double fault at 3-3 in the tie-break. When he served again at 3-6, Kendrick ran round the ball to crash a huge forehand winner from outside the tramlines.

Kendrick's confidence was understandably high, but Murray made the only break of the third set in the sixth game, in which the American served two double faults. When Kendrick mishit a forehand at 30-40 Murray clenched his fist and screamed "Come on!" The Scot converted his second set point three games later when Kendrick put a forehand in the net.

In the fourth set Murray broke to lead 3-2 with a typically brilliant point. Having brought Kendrick into the net with an exquisite backhand drop shot, he then cracked a lovely backhand cross-court winning pass. Kendrick saved a match point when serving at 3-5, but it was only delaying the inevitable. In the next game Murray created a second match point with an assured smash and converted it immediately when Kendrick hit a forehand return long. The Scot turned to the crowd to roar his approval and can now look forward to playing an opponent whose game is not dissimilar to Kendrick's.

Like the American, Gulbis has a natural inclination to go for his shots. With a big serve and ground strokes to match, the 20-year-old quickly climbed into the world's top 40, though he has slipped back to No 74 in the world rankings after a poor first half of the year. His 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 victory yesterday over Italy's Riccardo Ghedin was only his tenth in 26 matches in 2009 (compared with Murray's 41-6 win-loss record).

The 20-year-old Latvian has not won two matches in a row all year and lost in the first round at Queen's Club a fortnight ago to Alberto Martin, a clay-courter. He has played here only twice before, losing to Marcos Baghdatis in the first round two years ago and to Nadal in the second round last year, though he did take a set off the eventual champion. Murray has played him twice before, winning in three sets at Queen's last summer and in two sets at St Petersburg later in the year. Gulbis' father is an investment businessman and in the past his son flew to Challenger tournaments in his private jet.

Asked what it would take for him to reach the final, Murray said: "I'd have to play great tennis. Obviously I would have to win five more matches, and they're going to get tougher every round. But I'm not going to start worrying about reaching the final yet. I need to focus on the next match. I've got a very tough opponent. Gulbis has caused some upsets in the past and is a huge hitter of the ball. I'm going to need to be on my game to beat him."

Great Scot: Murray in numbers

85.4 Percentage of games Andy Murray had won in this calendar year, prior to Wimbledon

12 Number of career singles title won by Murray, one more then Tim Henman.

145 Speed, in miles per hour, of Murray's fastest recorded serve, against Kevin Kim in San Jose in February 2007.

9 Murray held a 9-3 win record at Wimbledon before yesterday, his best performance last year's quarter-final.

3 Number of times Murray has reached the last eight of a Grand Slam, all within the last 12 months.

26 Months since Murray first achieved a top 10 world ranking.

The giant banner displayed by Legia Warsaw supporters last night
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
Arts and Entertainment
Tulisa as a judge on the X Factor in 2012
tvLouis Walsh confirms star's return
Life and Style
fashionClothes shop opens on Bill Clinton Boulevard in Pristina
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Life and Style
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone