Spectacular start as Andy Murray returns to form with a bang at Wimbledon

British No 1 admits 'I have been itching to get going' following Davydenko demolition


Andy Murray has always stressed the importance of saving his best tennis for the biggest occasions and the 25-year-old Scot put some difficult weeks behind him to make a hugely impressive start to his Wimbledon campaign here yesterday. The problems with his back, the criticisms of former players who doubted the seriousness of his physical problems and a defeat in his only grass-court warm-up match were all forgotten as Murray beat Nikolay Davydenko 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 in just an hour and 35 minutes.

Murray, who will now face either Ivo Karlovic or Dudi Sela, played some stunning tennis. His forehand, which has sometimes been a weakness in the past, was in wonderful shape. The world No 4, showing no signs of any problems with his back, hit a succession of big shots to which his opponent had no answer.

Even more damaging was Murray's sliced backhand. Davydenko, who has always struggled on grass, had little idea how to cope with Murray's low, skidding shots as they bit into the lush green turf.

Murray made only four unforced errors, all of them in the final set, dropped just 12 points on his serve and did not have to save a single break point. Davydenko, in contrast, was constantly kept on the back foot by the quality of Murray's returns and dropped his serve six times.

It was a welcome return to form for the world No 4, who was not at his best in the clay-court season, when he was troubled by a back problem. His grass-court season had also got off to an unwelcome start when he lost his opening match at the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club, where he had won the title twice in the previous three years.

"There had been a lot of waiting around since Queen's and I've been itching to get going," Murray said afterwards. 'I just wanted to go and play. I played well. Once I got ahead of him, I wanted to make sure I didn't let him back in. He's very, very dangerous. He's a very good returner as well. I needed to stay concentrated on my serve and I did it well."

On an increasingly overcast day which featured one stoppage for rain, Murray was clearly in no mood to hang around on a noticeably less than full Centre Court. Whether or not it was because the match was so one-sided, the crowd were subdued throughout.

"Once I had the momentum I didn't want it to stop because of the rain or having the roof on," Murray said later. "I just wanted to try to get off the court, if I could, as quickly and efficiently as possible."

Davydenko has given Murray problems in the past, but the 31-year-old Russian is not the player he was. Injuries have taken their toll on the former world No 3, whose speed around the court used to be his greatest weapon.

The world No 47 was in trouble from the moment he lost lengthy rallies on the first two points. Davydenko held his serve in the opening game thanks to two aces, one of which saved a break point, but from that moment onwards Murray took command, winning nine games in a row. The first set took 30 minutes and the second only 25, Murray clinching it in style with a lovely backhand pass down the line.

Davydenko, to his credit, showed some resilience by holding serve four times in the third set and saving two match points, but Murray was not to be denied. The Scot set up his third match point with a winning serve and secured victory when Davydenko hit a backhand beyond the baseline.

At the end Murray twice pointed his fingers to the sky in celebration. Afterwards he refused to say what the gesture had signified. "It's something for me and the guys that I work with," he said. "I don't really want to go into too much detail because I'll end up getting asked about it every single day."

Asked whether the recent criticisms had given him extra motivation, Murray said: "I just wanted to go out there today, play well, keep my focus and not worry about the other stuff that goes on off the court around this time of the year. I think I did a good job of that."

Karlovic was leading Sela 6-4, 6-4, 1-1 when their match was suspended because of rain and bad light. If Karlovic completes his victory today, Murray will be facing a very different challenge to that offered by his first opponent. At 6ft 10in the 33-year-old Croat is the tallest player ever to reach the world's top 100 and exactly a foot taller than Davydenko. The world No 59 has one of the biggest serves in the game and could be a particularly dangerous opponent on grass.

"It's very hard to get into a rhythm against someone like that," Murray said. "He's made it very difficult for a lot of players over the last five or six years because he serves so well, makes you feel pretty uncomfortable on the court. So there's going to be games where you might not even touch the ball where he's serving, so you need to try and stay in the zone and not lose focus on your service games. I'll need to serve well against him."

Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice