Robert Kendrick joked yesterday that he might go on to court against Andy Murray this afternoon wearing a Superman outfit he has donned for past Halloweens. The 29-year-old Californian journeyman will need to produce something out of the ordinary if he is to upset the world No 3, who is the bookmakers' second favourite to win the title here.
Roger Federer, the only man ahead of the 22-year-old Scot in the betting, won his first-round match with the minimum of fuss yesterday, beating Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu in straight sets, and it would be a major surprise if Murray were not an equally comfortable winner over Kendrick.
The only hope for the world No 76 might be to rediscover his form of three years ago, when he was two sets up against Rafael Nadal in the second round here before losing a match that took nearly four hours. Within a month Kendrick played Murray on grass at Newport, Rhode Island, and was beaten 6-0, 6-0, though he was suffering with a shoulder injury at the time.
Murray also won their two subsequent meetings, in four sets at the 2006 US Open – "There were a lot of Scottish flags flying around that day and I had to tell him to take them down," Kendrick smiled – and in straight sets at Miami the following year.
Kendrick said he got on well with Murray off the court. "We talk when we get a chance," he said. "We were on the same court yesterday so I told him to stay away from me for the next couple of days! He has a good sense of humour. We were laughing."
The American agreed that there was a great weight of expectation on Murray's shoulders. "I hope I can use that," he said. "I know there is a lot of pressure on him and you have to see how he reacts to that in the early rounds. Obviously him winning Queen's built more pressure in terms of thinking he can do it. He is playing great tennis."
Murray said he knew a lot about Kendrick's game. "He's a tough grass-court player," the Scot said. "He obviously proved that when he nearly beat Nadal here. He has a big game, plays very aggressively and takes a lot of chances, so there is no chance of me underestimating him."
Kendrick, who admitted he had not been playing well in the current grass-court season, has been in Europe for the last eight weeks. "I'm missing home a bit, but my parents came over this week and I like playing on grass," he said.
"It's got a little slower which doesn't help me too much, but if the weather is hot and the balls are moving and I'm serving well, you just never know.
"I'm a guy who goes for his shots, but I'm not going to serve and volley too much against him because he's such a good returner. I'm going to have to mix it up."
He added: "There are easier matches in the draw. He's a tough opponent for the first round, but there's nothing I can do about it. I think I'll need to play pretty well to upset Andy, though I usually play well in the first few rounds of tournaments."
Murray trained yesterday morning on a secluded practice court at the All England Club, well away from public glare. "I'm feeling good," he said.
"I had a lot of practice last week so it's been good. I've nothing planned for the rest of the day. I'll just go and relax and watch some tennis at home."