Sweat is on as muscular Murray opens his Wimbledon account

Beefed up by an extra four kilos of body mass and rendered extra flexible by yoga sessions in a sauna, the 2009 model Andy Murray opened his Wimbledon account yesterday bigger, better and wearing the traditional burden of British hope if not quite with serenity, then certainly with workmanlike vigour.

The British No 1 and world No 3 emerged victorious from an unexpectedly tough opening-round encounter with Robert Kendrick, an American some 73 places below him in the world rankings, amid sweltering conditions on Centre Court. After two hours and 28 minutes, the Scot won 7-5 6-7 6-3 6-4.

The 22-year-old was widely tipped to have the best chance yet of ending the host nation's 73-year absence from the board engraved with the names of Wimbledon men's singles champions, but his difficulties against a swashbuckling opponent were proof of Murray's pre-match insistence that he knew "how difficult it is" to win the All-England Championship.

But amid his followers on Murray Mound, sweating as much because of the 28C heat as their hero's problems with dispatching a player he was expected to beat easily, belief ran strong – if only because victory allowed them to rush back into the cooling shade of the trees on top of the now famous slope.

Peter Swain, 36, a telesales manager who had travelled from Edinburgh to see his compatriot in action, sipped contemplatively on a glass of Pimms before delivering his verdict.

He said: "Andy's in great shape, there's no doubt about that. But I think he's also overcome the whole thing about us, about the British, needing to win Wimbledon like it's our birthright.

"I think with Tim Henman, it was always the triumph of hope over expectation. With Murray, everyone realises that he's the real deal. We're talking about the world No 3 who's disciplined and focused. Maybe we should just all relax a little and enjoy it."

As ever with the man from Dunblane who famously does not do broad grins for the attendant cameras, enjoyment was not particularly discernible as he swapped breaks and sets with Kendrick on Centre Court.

Instead Murray, whose sponsors include the Royal Bank of Scotland (presumably he is the only British civil servant who earns his income dressed in Fred Perry), made it clear he was concentrating on personal success rather than on reversing seven decades of national failure.

The absence of Rafael Nadal, his Spanish nemesis in last year's quarter final, was apparently of little consequence. Asked about the burden of expectation on Murray Mound and beyond, he added: "You can either deal with that stuff or you can't. I don't get caught up in the whole hype thing, reading all the papers, listening to what everyone is saying."

It was unclear whether such sentiments were behind a plea from Murray's representatives for the paparazzi to stay away from his new £5m mansion in Surrey, into which he moved last week. Certainly, Murray's entourage of coaches and consultants have made much of his physical readiness to rack up his first Grand Slam title. He prepared for the 2009 season with a three-week training camp at the University of Miami, consuming 5,800 calories per day – twice the recommended level for an adult male – which he worked off with intense bouts of weightlifting, running, jumping and sessions of Bikram yoga in an energy-sapping 49C.

It was training which would have stood him in good stead in sunny SW19 yesterday during a tournament better known for its rain. On-court temperatures reached 31C, while outside some 90 spectators had to be treated by the St John Ambulance for the effects of the heat.

Side by side: Team Murray

Judy Murray

Often described as the ultimate tennis mum, Murray's mother is a former coach for the Scottish national team. She trained Andy until he was 13 and coached his older brother, Jamie. The 49-year-old works for the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA).

Andy Ireland

Nicknamed 'Needles' due to his fondness for acupuncture, Ireland is one of several trainers devoted to Murray's fitness. It was on Ireland's suggestion that Murray has begun taking ice baths after each game to help relax his muscles.

Jez Green

Oversees Murray's nutrition, and thought to be responsible for Murray's 9lb of muscle gain. His diet regime is reported to depend heavily on sushi and protein bars. Born in Britain but now based in Florida, Green answers to the nickname "Jezebel".

Kim Sears

Murray's girlfriend since 2006 is the daughter of Nigel Sears, head coach of women's tennis at the LTA. The 21 year-old student is credited with encouraging her boyfriend to smarten up his earlier shaggy-haired, unshaven visage.

Matt Little

Murray went public last year with his devotion for Bikram yoga, practised in severe heat to provoke profuse sweating. Little encouraged him to take it up as a way of improving flexibility. Little oversees his injury prevention and stretching routines.

Miles MacLagan

Works on the psychological aspect of Murray's game. Officially designated as his travelling coach, 33-year-old 'Smiles' organises schedules and practice sessions. He is Murray's chief rival on video games during the player's relaxation time.

Win two VIP passes to Wimbledon this Saturday

We're giving away two VIP passes to the Evian Wimbledon suite this Saturday, plus seats on Centre Court – similar hospitality packages cost in excess of £3,000. Want to win? Just answer this question:

Which former Wimbledon champion said: "If you're afraid of losing, you daren't win"?

To enter, visit www.independent.co.uk/wimbledontickets and tell us your answer by 4pm today and you could be sipping champagne and eating strawberries, courtesy of Evian. Food and drinks are included and you will be picked up by taxi from anywhere within the M25.

Wimbledon is a key date in Britain's stylish social calendar. Evian has transformed a corner of Wimbledon into an Alpine hideaway for VIP guests, and is offering you and one guest the chance to come and enjoy pink champagne, a gorgeous three-course lunch and a traditional English afternoon tea, while enjoying world-class tennis.

Terms and conditions: Entries must be received by 4pm today. The winner will be picked at random and notified by email by 6pm today. The Editor's decision is final. Only one entry per household. See www.independent.co.uk/legal for standard Independent terms and conditions. Travel expenses to London are not included. No purchase necessary.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee