There was a time when the prospect of facing Germany's Becker on Centre Court would have had any Briton quaking in fear but Boris is long retired and Andy Murray is not intimidated by anyone. The world No.2 swept away Benjamin Becker in straight sets at Wimbledon showing no sign of the back injury which kept him out of the French Open.
Murray beat the 92-ranked Becker 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, making it five sets without reply in a fortnight having beaten the same opponent 6-4, 7-6 at Queens. Though the match began to a backdrop of empty seats (corporate lunches having presumably overrun) there were few spare when he received a rapturous ovation at its conclusion.
A wayward backhand meant Murray's first match point went to waste but a powerful serve and thumping follow-up forehand secured victory in one hour and 52 minutes. He thumped a ball onto the roof, from whence it bounced down to be fought over by spectators, threw his wristband to the crowd on the other side, and took the applause.
Slowly, but surely, it seems middle England, coaxed by a combination of Olympic success, Wimbledon tears, and a slight lifting of the veil, has taken the Scot to its hearts – though the acid test will be the putative semi-final meeting with Roger Federer.
“It was a tough start,” said Murray. “He is a very good grass court player. To win in three sets is a good start. There is always nerves before the first match of the grand slam, especially here, so it was good to get it out of the way.”