Murray out to trample Bautista green shoots

WIMBLEDON champion Andy Murray earned almost an extra day off this week such was the efficient manner of his second-round victory, but the Scot can anticipate a far greater test against old friend Roberto Bautista Agut today.

The pair became close when practicing together on the clay courts of Valencia – the favoured surface of Spanish players – in the lead up to the Madrid Masters.

Their love of football may well have dominated conversations, with Murray an avid supporter of Scottish First Division side Hibernian and Agut once on the books at Villarreal before opting to turn his back on a promising football career to focus all his energy on tennis.

Bautista reached the semi-finals in Madrid before losing to Rafael Nadal, the most dominant player on clay that tennis has ever known.

And it came as no surprise to Murray, having seen the 26-year-old at close quarters, that the Spaniard’s maiden ATP title came last week at the Topshelf Open in Holland – one of only five tour events to be played on grass.

Grass courts do not exist in Spain, yet Agut has developed enough elements to his game to more than just make up the numbers in SW19.

The world No23’s flat baseline shots will pose the defending champion an array of problems.

Yet the prospect of Murray’s earliest exit at Wimbledon since 2005 is almost implausible.

The 27-year-old has not had to produce the vintage tennis so far that secured him the trophy last year, but there is plenty left in the tank to ensure he reaches week two without dropping a set.

TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

Centre Court
■ Petra Kvitova (CZE) [6] v
Venus Williams (USA) [30]

■ Andy Murray (GBR) [3] v
Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) [27]

Court One
■ Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) v
Na Li (CHN) [2]

■ Marin Cilic (CRO) [26] v
Tomas Berdych (CZE) [6]