On My Mind Disciples
30 June 2015, 18:56
Andy Murray's bid for a second Wimbledon title got off to the perfect start as the Scot booked his place in round two with a straight-sets victory over Mikhail Kukushkin.
Kukushkin, ranked 59th in the world, has never been past the third round at the All England Club but the Kazakh offered a stiff examination for Murray, who came through 6-4 7-6 (7/3) 6-4 on Centre Court.
Murray will now play either Holland's Robin Haase or Colombian Alejandro Falla in the second round.
Murray arrived to a standing ovation from the expectant home crowd and the Scot could be forgiven for the spring in his step, after following up his most successful season on clay with the title at Queen's Club.
Boosted this year by the addition of Jonas Bjorkman to his coaching team, which already boasts Amelie Mauresmo, Murray has added more aggression to his game and is now perhaps the greatest threat to Novak Djokovic defending his crown.
Opportunities to demonstrate his more varied style, however, were few and far between in the opening set as Kukushkin held his own with some consistent serving and heavy ground strokes.
Murray stepped up a gear though at the crucial time, forcing two break points at 5-4, before converting a third to move one set ahead after 35 minutes.
The cushion seemed to relax Murray, who played more freely at the start of the second as a whipping forehand winner prompted an early break and a 3-0 lead.
A number of spectators, presumably satisfied their man was in control, took their leave at the change of ends but Kukushkin had other ideas, unleashing a hammering return to break back and trail 3-2.
Murray has been eager to assume more authority over his opponents in recent months but it was Kukushkin, and more particularly, his forehand, that was dictating the direction of the contest.
It flew long to give Murray another break but soon found its range as Kukushkin won four games in a row, including two breaks, to serve for the set at 6-5.
Murray, however, dug deep to force a tie-break and the Briton, spurred on by the invigorated home crowd, made his quality count.
Racing into a 6/1 lead, Kukushkin's momentum was lost and a backhand long allowed Murray to seal the tie-break 7/3 and take a two-set advantage.
Murray was back in the ascendancy and he enjoyed an excellent start to the third set as he immediately broke the Kukushkin serve to lead 2-0.
His opponent, however, refused to lie down and it was left for Murray to serve out the match as he led 5-4.
The Scot's concentration wobbled as a double fault offered Kukushkin two break points, but this time there was no comeback as a backhand wide sealed Murray's progress in two hours and 13 minutes.