World No1 Sir Andy Murray expressed his relief after overcoming injury concerns to begin his Wimbledon title defence with a first round victory over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik on Centre Court.
As fellow Britons Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Aljaz Bedene also progressed, Murray received a further boost when fifth seed Stan Wawrinka was eliminated by Daniil Medvedev in the biggest shock of the day.
Murray’s pre-tournament build up had been blighted by a hip problem and while he appeared somewhat stiff between points and to walk uneasily at times, the 30-year-old dispatched world No135 Bublik in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2.
“I was a bit nervous this morning,” said Murray, who faces Germany’s Dustin Brown in round two. “I hadn’t been able to do as much as I would have liked in the build up. The first match at a slam, there’s always a few extra nerves.
“Once I got out there and got the early break, I felt good. I moved well. So for a first match, considering how I was feeling five, six days ago, it was really positive.”
Murray’s injury woes forced him to cancel two exhibition clashes last week and enter the competition with a solitary grass-court match under his belt. Even as late as Monday morning there were reports of grimaces in training, although the Scot doused the latest worries.
“My hip felt good. It’s a little bit sore, but I was moving really good on court and that’s the most important thing,” he added. “If you’re in a little bit of pain, but you can still run as you normally do, that doesn’t affect how you play. It’s when it’s affecting your movement and some of the shots that you play that it’s a problem.”
Murray hit 29 winners against lucky loser and Wimbledon debutant Bublik, a part-time rapper, although the 20-year-old did not help himself by chalking up 12 double faults.
But on a generally pleasing day for British competitors, Murray, who is bidding to become the first player from these shores to defend a grand slam since Fred Perry in 1936, refused to show any support for Dan Evans.
The 27-year-old admitted last month that he had returned a positive out-of-competition test for cocaine and now faces a lengthy suspension. Murray said: “He put himself in that position. The rules are clear, he broke those rules and deserves his suspension.
“In what was looking like it was going to be the best few years of his career, he’s going to have a few years away now. You make your decisions. He’s obviously made a really, really bad one there.”
British No3 Aljaz Bedene, meanwhile, followed Murray’s lead and reached round two by upsetting big-serving Ivo Karlovic in an epic encounter which lasted four and a half hours. Bedene prevailed 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (7-9), 7-6 (9-7), 8-6.
French Open winner Rafael Nadal showcased imperious form to brush aside Australia’s John Millman, although there was no such joy for Wawrinka, who bowed out 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.