Wimbledon 2014: Andy Murray in ‘better’ physical shape this year to enjoy challenge of title defence

The Scot will be seeded No 3 as a result of the All England Club’s policy of giving greater weight to past grass-court results

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Andy Murray is only three days away from beginning the most important fortnight of his year but says he is determined to enjoy the experience.

Murray will start the defence of his Wimbledon title on Monday – he will learn the identity of his first-round opponent at this morning’s draw at the All England Club – and continued his preparations by playing an exhibition match here at the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic.

“I think it will be important at the beginning to go out on the court [at Wimbledon] and enjoy the feeling,” Murray said after his 6-2, 7-6 victory over Spain’s Tommy Robredo. “Going out there as defending champion is something that I’ve never experienced before.

“When you start playing you need to treat it just like any other tennis match, to get down to business and focus on the tactics and on what you need to do on the court, but it’s still important to enjoy it.”

Murray’s run at Queen’s Club in last week’s Aegon Championships was cut short by a third-round defeat, but the bonus has been that he has had more time to practise with Amélie Mauresmo, his new coach, who filled the void left by Ivan Lendl.

“I’ve enjoyed being on the court with her,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed having her around. She understands the game. She’s also been in the position before of returning to Wimbledon [in 2007] as the defending champion.

“She’s just getting to know me and the guys I work with, how they operate. These last few days we’ve had some decent time to work on some things on the court. I’ve enjoyed the practices and I think that’s important.

“The last couple of days I’ve been moving well. I’ve practised with [Jo-Wilfried] Tsonga and [Grigor] Dimitrov and I had a good match here today. I’m feeling good.”

He added: “My body feels better than it did last year. I was struggling with my back for a good couple of years. I’ve had the surgery and I hope that will make a difference this year.”

Murray will be seeded No 3 at Wimbledon as a result of the All England Club’s policy of giving greater weight to past grass-court results, rather than simply going by the world rankings. “The way Wimbledon do the seedings is correct,” said Murray, who is the world No 5. “Some people might say that I would say that because I’ve been moved up, but there are so few tournaments played on grass now and so few ranking points up for grabs on the grass that I think it is a special surface.”

The Scot never looked in much trouble against Robredo. The Spaniard was broken at the start of the first set which he went on to lose, but responded well in the second, converting his first break point of the match to go 2-1 up. Murray broke back, only to drop serve again in the ninth game. Yet Robredo failed to serve out for the set and Murray went on to dominate the tie-break, which he won 7-1.

Meanwhile Robredo’s fellow Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, has pulled out of Wimbledon with a foot injury. The withdrawal of Almagro, who was the No 25 seed, means that Canada’s Vasek Pospisil will now be seeded.

Heather Watson has a good chance of reaching her first premier final on the women’s tour this weekend. The world No 70 was handed a free path into today’s semi-finals of the Aegon International at Eastbourne when her quarter-final opponent, Petra Kvitova, withdrew because of injury.

Watson, who knocked out the world No 12, Flavia Pennetta, on Wednesday, is on the brink of a return to the world’s top 50. She faces Madison Keys, who beat her fellow American Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-1. Caroline Wozniacki meets Angelique Kerber in the other semi-final.

Marion Bartoli’s return to grass-court tennis ended in retirement and defeat to a 15-year-old. Bartoli, who retired within two months of winning Wimbledon last summer, played in an exhibition tournament at Liverpool Cricket Club. Her opponent was Jodie Burrage, from Surrey. Bartoli was losing 7-5, 3-2 when she pulled out with a shoulder problem.

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