Murray eases Wimbledon fears with exhibition win

Andy Murray returned to action in the Boodles Challenge at Stoke Park yesterday after pulling out of the Artois Championship last week with a thumb injury and said he "felt good" in beating the Serbian Jarko Tipsarevic 6-3, 5-7, 12-10.

Following a period of rest, Murray was pleased to be able to get back on the grass to continue his build up to Wimbledon. "It felt good, as I had not hit a ball for a few days," he said following his win against the world No 40. "I enjoyed it out there and managed to play some good tennis."

Murray added: "There were a few times when I mishit the ball that I felt it, but I was able to play for around an hour and a half out there and it felt OK."

The British No 1 took charge of the opening set in the exhibition match following an early break. There was something of a scare when he slipped at the back of the court and lay motionless for a moment, but the young Scot was soon on his feet.

The second set was a closer affair as the Serbian No 2 found his range. Tipsarevic recovered from losing his serve in the first game to fight back to 4-4 and then lead 6-5 before breaking Murray to level the match and force a final-set tie-break.

Both men saved match points against them before Tipsarevic – who took Roger Federer to five sets at the Australian Open in January – netted an overhead volley which gave Murray a chance to clinch victory.

The Briton missed Wimbledon last year because of a wrist injury and is clearly relishing the chance of a return to SW19 as home favourite. "The lack of pressure on you, that is quite nice to play with no expectation on your shoulders," he joked, before adding: "The support you get there is unbelievable playing on Centre Court in front of 14,000 people."

Murray's brother, Jamie, confirmed yesterday that the pair are aiming to represent Britain in the doubles at the Olympic Games in Beijing. He said: "I am sure we will get in because of his high singles ranking. Not everyone is fortunate to play at the Olympics, and to be able to stand side by side with your brother playing for your country will be an amazing experience.

"Hopefully, we can also do that in the Davis Cup for Great Britain and get us back into the World Group." Andy also plans to play in the singles in Beijing.

At the Slazenger Open in Nottingham yesterday, Jamie beat his former partner Eric Butorac, with whom he won the title last year, to reach the quarter-finals of the doubles. Murray is playing with South Africa's Jeff Coetzee this week while his regular partner Max Mirnyi attempts to qualify for Wimbledon, and the pair edged through 7-6, 4-6, 10-8 against Butorac and his fellow American Bobby Reynolds.

It was the second time in a week Murray had faced Butorac with the pair also meeting at Queen's last week, when the Scot again came out on top in a match tie-break. But Murray admitted the victories were not ones he relished. "It's a bit strange," he said. "I'd rather beat other people than Booty but that's the way it goes."

The British pair James Auckland and Jamie Delgado could not match Murray's success, losing 6-4, 6-4 to fourth seeds Bruno Soares and Kevin Ullyett.

Jamie Baker shrugged off his defeat by Samuel Groth in the singles yesterday, admitting he was glad just to be on the court. The 7-6, 6-3 loss was a significant achievement considering that three months ago Baker was lying in intensive care in Florida suffering from a potentially life-threatening virus.

He returned to training three weeks ago and, well ahead of schedule, accepted wild cards for Nottingham and Wimbledon next week.

"If you'd asked me when I was lying in a hospital bed if I'd be playing here I'd have laughed, so just to be playing is a massive bonus," he said.

"I was very, very tired and for weeks after I came out of hospital I felt like I couldn't get out of bed. I wasn't able to look more than a week in advance," Baker added.

Elsewhere, the former Wimbledon champion Lindsay Davenport withdrew from the Eastbourne International yesterday with a knee injury. It raises doubts about her participation in Wimbledon as she has now not played competitively since April.

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