Wimbledon 2019: Andy Murray makes winning return to All England Club with opening doubles victory

The two-time champion Scot, returning here for the first time since 2017, and partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert recovered from losing the first set to prevail 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, 6-0

Eleanor Crooks
Wimbledon
Thursday 04 July 2019 21:12
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Wimbledon Championships in numbers

Andy Murray made a winning return to Wimbledon alongside Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the first round of the men's doubles.

Five months after the world number one underwent hip surgery and wondered if he would ever play professional tennis again, Murray and his French partner defeated Ugo Humbert and Marius Copil 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-0.

Having started slowly in their first match as a pair, Murray and Herbert improved rapidly and showed enough over the final three sets to indicate they could go a long way in this tournament.

Murray said: "It was nice. I was a little bit nervous at the start but obviously got better as the match went on. Really nice atmosphere at the end, the new roof is brilliant. The crowd make a bit more noise it seems. It was great to get the win."

The cheer that greeted Murray's arrival on Court One was loud and heartfelt, although it was a shame more people had not stayed in their seats to welcome back Britain's greatest striker of a fuzzy yellow ball.

The fans on Henman Hill next door were still glued to the sporting theatre taking place on Centre between Nick Kyrgios and Rafael Nadal, giving this something of a sideshow feel.

Herbert is a top-class doubles player, having won all four grand-slam titles with his regular partner Nicolas Mahut, who was rather miffed to see his fellow Frenchman pop up with Murray having decided primarily to focus on singles this season.

On paper, it was a strong partnership, but there were concerns over a thigh problem for Herbert while Murray, who won the title at Queen's Club with Feliciano Lopez in his first tournament back, admitted their first practice session together was not a success.

In the early stages they certainly looked like a duo still learning how to play with each other. Murray struggled to land first serves and was broken to trail 2-1.

Murray and Humbert combined to good effect 

Copil, who sent serves booming down at up to 140mph, and Humbert deservedly took the first set but the weak link was the serve of the 21-year-old Frenchman.

He was broken for a second time to start the second set, and there was a reminder that this was Andy Murray, one of sport's great competitive animals, when he yelled 'come on' after saving a break point to hold for 3-0.

From there, the Scottish-French pair began to seize control of the match. Their partnership gelled better, they were sharper at the net and both men found their serves.

Herbert, in particular, began to show why he was the class of this quartet as a doubles player and his partner looked very happy to be along for the ride.

There is still a trace of the limp that betrayed Murray's debilitating hip pain but he insists the joint no longer hurts, even if it needs more time to build up to the rigours of singles, a return to which could come as early as the US Open next month.

Herbert and Murray are through to the second round 

Humbert's serve was again the one that was broken in the third set, after which there was a delay while the new roof was deployed for the third time this week.

The fourth set was an exhibition from Herbert and Murray, whose backhand returns were on vintage form, and they strolled through, the Scot fittingly delivering the final blow with a volley winner.

They have a stern test next against sixth seeds Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor from Croatia, but the most important thing is that Murray is back.

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