April 17, 2024

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Tennis Royalty Takes Centre Stage as Federer Cheers Murray to Victory

4 min read
Tennis Royalty Takes Centre Stage as Federer Cheers Murray to Victory

Another old master moved on as one watched. In the royal box at Wimbledon, Roger Federer was nodding in agreement as Andy Murray easily defeated Englishman Ryan Peniston with scores of 6-3, 6-0, and 6-1 to advance to the second round.

Since winning here in 2014, this was Murray’s most convincing victory. Following the match, he gave a bullish outlook on his chances and suggested that Tuesday’s torrential downpour might have helped him advance further in the competition.

“It’s been a long time since I have felt physically good coming into Wimbledon,” he said. “I’m fit and ready for a good run. And if I play well, I can defeat the majority of the players in the draw.”

The bad weather forced his next opponent, either No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or former US Open champion Dominic Thiem, to finish their match on Wednesday, giving Murray a scheduling advantage.

“For the athletes who were rained out, it’s difficult. But any opportunity to complete a game quickly while also saving some energy is a really good thing. Hopefully, the further I advance in the competition, the more rested I will be.”

Thiem led 6-4, 3-4 when action was stopped on No. 2 Court. Murray obviously believes he can win, though, so whoever steps forward. Murray consistently asserts that he is still one of the best grass-court players in the world, and it is understandable given his age and metal hip. Although it is a mantra of defiance, it also carries a tinge of truth.

Who else is there who is obviously better when you take out Novak Djokovic and the world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz? The other NextGen stars, including Holger Rune, Seb Korda, and Jannik Sinner, are still adjusting while Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios are injured, Daniil Medvedev and Casper Ruud appear to be allergic to the green stuff, and they are still getting used to their new roles.

Murray’s victory at Wimbledon in straight sets, as well as the Princess of Wales and Federer’s support, were encouraging. It was his first straight-sets victory there since 2017.

“It was amazing to have some royalty and also some tennis royalty here,” he said, as The Center Court erupted in jubilation. The next question was for Federer’s opinion. “Very good,” he replied, to more laughs and cheers.

After the match, Murray said that having Federer, with whom he has sparred frequently here, watch on was enjoyable. “I didn’t find it strange,” he said. “Having him there was pleasant. Pete Sampras observed Roger and Rafa from a perch above. And Rod Laver attended numerous matches at the Australian Open.”

At least initially, there was little to excite the crowd. Together, the two players have put in a lot of practice, which may have contributed to the choppy opening set that was played to polite applause and the constant patter of rain on the Centre Court roof.

Nevertheless, Murray started to find his groove after he avoided break points at 1-1 and 2-2. Murray’s first break of the match came at 4-2, thanks in part to Peniston’s cheap-gift-giving, who committed a backhand error into the tramlines.

Soon after, Murray also won the first set, but the inconsistent nature of their play was best exemplified by the fact that they each made 27 unforced errors in the first set while only hitting 10 winners. “At first, I was quite uneasy, but once the first set break came, I started to play well. There were some promising signals.”

Murray was certainly a different player after that. He broke right away to start the second set, sped through it, and won it to love before claiming the third set 6-1. “I eliminated unintentional mistakes as the game progressed. At the start of the second and third sets, I was quite brutal. No dip in intensity or anything of the sort occurred. In those sets, I took the lead early and performed well.”

The 27-year-old Peniston – who had rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer, which initially inhibited his growth as a child – deserves great credit for his play. He did defeat two top-10 players in Ruud and Rune last year, so he does have some grass-court experience for someone ranked 268 in the world, but he was helpless against Murray’s quiet dissection.

“I had quite a few games where I was 30-love up, things like that, and had game points,” Peniston said. “However, he persisted in all of his points. The score was what it was because of this.”

Reference: www.theguardian.com

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