If it was "a dream" for 26-year-old Sam Murray from Stockport to be stepping on to a Wimbledon show court against Maria Sharapova, she was well aware that this was the sort that could easily become a humiliating nightmare.
That fate was avoided thanks to the former champion's sluggish start, but taking the second game of a predictably one-sided match was as good as the afternoon got for Murray, who won no more and lasted less than an hour in losing 6-1, 6-0.
Criticised in some quarters for receiving a wild-card entry when she is ranked no better than 247 in the world, Murray suggested she could be higher. She produced some fine shots to excite a Court One crowd not naturally disposed to love Sharapova, without taking the few opportunities that presented themselves.
Mostly, those came early. She forced a break point in the very first game and an excellent return to provide another one in the third. Both, however, slipped away and suddenly the scoreboard was reading 4-1.
Sharapova, occasionally careless, offered another break point by committing her fifth double-fault but it was clear by that stage where the match was heading – not towards Greater Manchester. Two vintage winners gave her a first set point and, although that one and one other were saved, she moved to 6-1 with a fierce cross-court forehand.
The first set had taken 35 minutes and the second was over and done with in 12 minutes fewer thanks to some further crushing forehands. Murray lost her serve immediately and was broken again to love for 3-0. The gulf was expressed again with another fierce forehand winner and at 5-0 Murray was hoping only to avoid a bagel set.
Champion here 10 years ago at 17, Sharapova concluded matters with an ace and, with a French Open title already to her name this year, the fifth seed has reason to expect a long run; much more so than last year's embarrassing second-round defeat by the Portuguese qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.
"It was a bit of a slower start than I wanted," Sharapova admitted. "She has a pretty aggressive game, quite an unusual game. She really went for her shots, but she made more unforced errors than she would have liked. As the match went on, I got more comfortable, and my service percentage went up. I try not to dwell on what happened in the past whether it was last year or in years before.
"You start from scratch and that's the way I treat the first round. I've had great memories here and there's no reason I can't do better than in the last couple of years."
It will go down nevertheless as a memorable second Wimbledon appearance for Murray, blessed or burdened with a famous surname that enables her uncle Andrew to wear a T-shirt emblazoned with "I am Andy Murray".
His niece said: "There were definitely some good points where I troubled her. I'll take the good points from it. I think my game can match up against the best players. I just need to get better at executing."Reuse content