Perfect start for Murray, the returning hero

Mon Jun 23, 2014 2:34pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - All was as it should be on the opening day of Wimbledon when returning British hero Andy Murray opened the defense of his historic title with an impressive first-round victory on Monday.

Under bright skies, with the Center Court grass glistening, his grandparents in the royal box and Murray resplendent in spotless white attire, the 27-year-old walked out to a standing ovation and rewarded his fans by dismantling Belgium's David Goffin 6-1 6-4 7-5.

Men's top seed Novak Djokovic, the man Murray beat in spine-tingling fashion last July to become the first home men's singles champion at the All England Club for 77 years, also began in style, crushing Andrey Golubev 6-0 6-1 6-4 in his first grasscourt outing of the year.

Dark horse Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria, winner of the Queen's Club grasscourt title this month, and sixth-seeded Czech Tomas Berdych both eased into the second round but there were some early casualties in the women's draw, notably former U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, the 17th seed, losing to Belgian Yanina Wickmayer.

Women's second seed Li Na suffered an early fright when she trailed 5-3 to Polish qualifier Paula Kania before completing a 7-5 6-2 victory against the world No.183 making her Wimbledon debut.

It has not all been plain sailing for Murray since that scorching Sunday afternoon when he ended decades of British men's failure at the most famous tournament in the sport.

Spinal surgery, a split with coach Ivan Lendl and up-and-down form meant there were a few question marks over the third seed as he prepared for two weeks of Murray Mania.

But, with new coach Amelie Mauresmo watching, Murray went through his full repertoire against a lightweight opponent who played the supporting role to perfection, engaging in some eye-catching rallies without threatening to rain on Murray's parade.   Continued...

Britain's Andy Murray reacts during his match against Czech Republic's Radek Stepanek at the Queen's Club Championships in west London June 12, 2014. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett