Make it nasty, brutish and short – how to win the Ivan Lendl way
Was Murray's new killer instinct not the attribute that Lendl was hired to impart?
Well, that was impressive, the kind of performance that would have benefited from computer graphics to splatter the court in rivers of red. Never mind that Nikolay Davydenko was complicit in the butchery. The blade that cut him to pieces was in savage hands.
Up in the seats behind the scoreboard sat Andy Murray's coach, Ivan Lendl. He was dressed in sympathy with the brutality of the display; the shaven head, shades and bomber jacket conveying with some force the message that neither he nor Murray are mucking about.
It's the first round. Davydenko barely approximates to the top-five competitor he was, which somehow makes Murray's display even more substantial. He sensed weakness and cut him down. Nasty, brutish and short is how Thomas Hobbes characterised the doomsday scenario for man in his political opus Leviathan. Davydenko experienced in miniature the sporting equivalent of living in a state of perpetual war.
Was this not the attribute Lendl was hired to impart? Murray has every shot in the tennis manual and a few more besides. He has faltered not for the lack of a forehand down the line or sliced backhand but because he allows doubt to nobble him when confronted by those he fears most.
Paradoxically Wimbledon was the one anomaly Lendl himself could never crack. But he knew enough about winning elsewhere to offer Murray something that hitherto he has not acquired through experience alone. Scarily good, was how John McEnroe described the slaughter. Ninety minutes was all it took. It is as well that the rain intervened in mid-afternoon, buying half an hour of delay for the organisers who placed the Scot third on Centre Court, the peak television slot for viewers demanding the remote control from the kids on their arrival home.
Had Elena Baltacha taken any longer to get past Karin Knapp on Court 18, Murray's mother Judy, observing in her role as Britain's Fed Cup captain, might have missed the show. In victory, Murray looked skyward and raised two fingers to the sky. A clenched fist as he left the scene augmented the sense of relentless power he is cultivating.
"I've been itching to get going since Queen's [Club tournament]. I'm hitting the ball clean," Murray said in a brief post-match aside. His inquisitor was trying to get the "I can win it" line. Murray was having none of it. "It's a good start" was as much as he would offer.
Murray knows that hysteria is the ugly sister he could do without in the days ahead. Centre Court needs no encouragement to reach for the bunting. The hill behind is just warming up. Lendl shaped a career on emotional minimalism, and has clearly done a fine job on communicating that to Murray.
All the British audience wants to see is that outcomes match potential. They have been told for long enough how good Murray is. Three Grand Slam finals is a fair reflection of his gifts. Last night he hinted at what might be. But then again so have those he has to beat.
Wimbledon in figures
137 Speed in mph of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's fastest serve yesterday.
2002 Elena Baltacha's best run in SW19, reaching the third round.
74 Years since no Australian man reached the second round.
12 Aces by Laura Robson in loss to Francesca Schiavone.
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
Arsene Wenger 18th anniversary at Arsenal: His WORST signings XI during his time with the Gunners
18 things Wenger has still never done at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger's worst signings XI
Colombian women's cycling team kit that makes wearer appear naked is branded 'unacceptable' by UCI president
Nani: On loan Sporting Lisbon winger admits he may not return to Manchester United
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Former Tory donor Arron Banks ups his Ukip donation to £1million following William Hague 'nobody' comment