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Murray Passes First Test At SW19

London, England

Andy Murray© Getty Images

Much to the relief of Henman Hill and a legion of British tennis fans, Andy Murray came through a severe test of his credentials as a potential Wimbledon champion on Tuesday.

Such was the demand to watch Britain’s best hope of ending a 73-year title-drought at The Championships the All England Club was forced to close its gates to approximately 4,000 spectators at 2 p.m. local time. 

Third seed Murray withstood heavy serving and fine attacking play from Californian Robert Kendrick, who was playing well above his current South African Airways ATP Ranking of No. 76, to triumph 7-5, 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 37 minutes.

Murray’s historic win at The Queen’s Club 10 days ago has re-ignited interest in the sport in Britain. Tennis fans are now dreaming of Murray emulating Fred Perry, who won the last of his three successive Wimbledon titles in 1936.

"I was disappointed I lost the second set," admitted Murray. "In the whole match, I think he had two breakpoints on my serve. "When you're serving like that and not giving someone too many opportunities, it's easier to stay calm because you're the one that's always sort of creating the opportunities.

"Once I managed [the breakthrough] in the third set I felt good. It wasn't an easy match. It was difficult. Staying calm was a huge part of winning. He came up with some huge serves when he was down.  And sometimes that can get frustrating."

Wearing retro 1950s-style attire, adorned by Perry’s laurel wreath logo, Murray soon proved to the Centre Court crowd just how much he has improved over the past 12 months. But the Scot’s serve began to misfire at 4-2 in the first set and at one stage Kendrick was just two points from winning the set.

There was to be no repeat of Murray’s 6-0, 6-0 win in their Newport encounter three years ago. Cheers of “Murray, Murray” reverberated around the famous show court, which inspired the 22 year old to break serve in the 11 game.

Chances to break serve went begging for Murray in the second set, as Kendrick held to force a tie-break. Murray double-faulted to trail 3-4 in the tie-break and a confident Kendrick went on to win three straight points to level the score line.

The tide began to turn in Murray’s favour in the seventh game of the third set when Kendrick, who had dominated on serve, hit a double fault and wayward forehand to gift Murray a service break. A spectacular diving volley in the 10th game gave Kendrick an opportunity to break back, but Murray survived and wrapped up a two sets to one lead.

Kendrick’s high-risk strategy, while impressive, began to hurt him in the fourth set. A wild forehand in the fifth game gave Murray a break point, which he duly converted with a backhand pass. The Dunblane native sealed his 10th win at The Championships on his second point to set-up a second round match with Latvian Ernests Gulbis.

"I'd have to play great tennis [to reach the final Sunday]," admitted Murray. "Obviously [I've] got to win five more matches, and they're going to get tougher every round.  I mean, for me, [I] obviously know what I need to do to get there. But I'm not going to start worrying about reaching the final yet. 

"I need to focus on the next match. I've got a very tough opponent. Gulbis has caused some upsets in the past and is a huge hitter of the ball. I'm going to need to be on my game to beat him."

For the fourth time in the Open Era, since 1968, one British male has qualified for the second round. Murray was one of five British starters this year. One British male made it to the second round in 1985 (John Lloyd), 1990 (Jeremy Bates) and 2007 (Tim Henman). It did not happen between 1946-1967.

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