Murray too strong for Kendrick

Andy Murray took his place in the second round of Wimbledon but only after a tense opening match against American Robert Kendrick.

Andy Murray took his place in the second round of Wimbledon but only after a tense opening match against American Robert Kendrick.

The British number one eventually triumphed 7-5 6-7 6-3 6-4 against a man who had not won a game against him the last time they played on grass.

It was a performance which will have raised a few doubts and maybe also lowered a few expectations in those who waved flags and wore painted saltires on their foreheads on Centre Court.

But Murray got the job done in the end and said: “It was a tough match. He served great for three sets and made it difficult for me. I didn’t return as well as I liked.

“There were a lot of big points and it is good to have them early in the tournament.

“He played very aggressively and he doesn’t give you rhythm. I didn’t hit my groundstrokes as well as I could but I was happy to come through.”

It was not the best of first sets from Murray, even though he did break Kendrick’s serve in the first game of the match when the American understandably appeared to be troubled by nerves.

Murray threatened to breeze past a player who had never beaten anyone in the top 20, but Kendrick took advantage of a double fault from the Scot to claw back the break in the eighth game.

Suddenly, the American’s flat forehand and big serve was starting to give Murray problems.

But much of Murray’s success is attributable to his composure, his ability to work his way through problems and it was the Scot’s percentage game which was crucial.

Sure enough, it drew a wild forehand wide of the tramlines from Kendrick to secure the crucial break in the 11th game and allow Murray to clinch the set.

Kendrick was much more competitive after switching his game plan to keep the ball away from Murray’s dangerous backhand.

His serve was more solid, too, and he was playing much better than in his last meeting against Murray on grass when he lost in two sets without winning a game.

One diving volley from Kendrick in the ninth game was reminiscent of Boris Becker in his prime.

And when the set went to a tie-break it was the American, aided by a Murray double fault, who dominated proceedings, a spectacular forehand clinching the breaker 7-3 to tie the match at one set each.

There was an air of apprehension on Centre Court until the match took a decisive turn in the sixth game of the next set when Kendrick threw in two uncharacteristic double faults, one of them courtesy of a foot fault, in the sixth game.

It allowed Murray to seize the set and it was clear he was gradually grinding down the resolve of his opponent.

The crucial break came in the fifth game of the fourth set, Murray finally asserting his authority to take his place in the second round against Latvia’s Ernests Gulbis and send a collective sigh of relief around SW19.

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