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Andy Murray fights back to beat James Duckworth in Wimbledon first round

Two-time Wimbledon champion Andy Murray rallied to beat James Duckworth and reach the second round at the All England Club; Murray will next face John Isner; Emma Raducanu also advanced with victory over Alison Van Uytvanck

Britain's Andy Murray celebrates after beating Australia's James Duckworth in a first round men's singles match on day one of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Monday, June 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Image: Andy Murray celebrates after beating James Duckworth at Wimbledon

Andy Murray recovered from dropping the first set to beat James Duckworth and reach the second round at Wimbledon.

Playing for the first time since suffering an abdominal injury in the final of the Stuttgart Open earlier this month, Murray came through 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 in two hours and 43 minutes under a closed roof on Centre Court.

Murray, who has never lost before the third round at Wimbledon, next faces former semi-finalist John Isner, who needed five sets to beat French qualifier Enzo Couacaud.

Andy Murray in action against James Duckworth at Wimbledon
Image: Murray came back from dropping the first set against Duckworth to win in four

Former world No 1 Murray leads the head to head 8-0 against the big-serving American.

"It's amazing to be back out here with a full crowd," said Murray in his on-court interview.

"I am getting on a bit now so I don't know how many more opportunities I will get to play on this court so I want to make the most of every time. Glad I managed to get through and hopefully get another match on here in a couple of days.

Murray vs Duckworth: Match Stats

Murray Match Stats Duckworth
16 Aces 10
2 Double Faults 5
85 1st serve win percentage 73
50 2nd serve win percentage 38
5/11 Break points won 2/2
35 Total winners 47
14 Unforced errors 37
123 Total points won 99

"I did well to rebound after the first set, he likes playing on grass, he was playing very well, once I started playing my returns a bit more as the match went on I felt a bit more comfortable and did well to get through it."

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Murray showed no physical discomfort from the injury that has prevented him from playing competitively over the last fortnight, and said afterwards he felt "fine" physically.

He said: "The last few days when I've been serving was fine. I went to get a scan, an ultrasound scan on it on Saturday after my practice just to see how it was progressing. It was all clear for the first time on the scans, which is really positive.

"I wanted that kind of for my own peace of mind to know that the injury has healed. Obviously I still need to take precautions and still do some rehab and protect it when I can.

"In the match today it was absolutely fine."

Murray was given a stern workout by Duckworth, especially in the early stages of the match.

Duckworth enjoyed his best run at Wimbledon last year, reaching the third round, and showed good variety with his groundstrokes to break for 2-1.

Andy Murray during his match against James Duckworth on day one of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Monday June 27, 2022.
Image: Murray celebrates winning a point

Some loose shots in the next game handed the advantage straight back, yet Murray did not kick on and fell a break down again in the ninth game as Duckworth powered a forehand winner down the line.

The Australian looked in confident mood as he closed out the set.

Murray made just 46 per cent of first serves in the opening set, but soon improved on that with back-to-back love holds. The two-time champion also found more rhythm with his groundstrokes and eventually wore Duckworth down to lead 4-2.

That break proved enough for Murray as he levelled the match.

Murray raised his game in the third set, earning an early break after an excellent drop shot and then winning a point after an underarm serve which delighted the crowd.

With the light fading and more errors starting to come from his racket, Duckworth asked for the roof on Centre Court to be closed. He got his wish, but only after losing the third set.

The fourth set was tightly contested until the ninth game when Murray forged ahead and broke after a double fault from his opponent.

Murray had no trouble serving out the win and sealed victory when Duckworth challenged a line call that turned out to be in.

Nothing underhand about underarm serve, says Murray

Andy Murray of Great Britain looks on against James Duckworth of Australia during Men's Singles First Round match during Day One of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Image: Murray served underarm in the third set of his victory over Duckworth

Murray defended using the underarm serve in his Wimbledon opener, saying it is a legitimate way to make opponents think twice before standing too deep to return serve.

The two-time Wimbledon champion used the shot in the third set of his victory over Duckworth, winning the point despite the Australian scrambling to get the ball back over the net.

"He changed his return position, that's why I did it," Murray said.

"He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two metres further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in."

Murray suggested the underarm serve might become more popular as players retreat further behind the baseline to improve their chances of getting a decent return on big serves.

Andy Murray celebrates victory in his match against James Duckworth during day one of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Monday June 27, 2022.
Image: Murray said underarm is a legitimate way of serving in tennis

"I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have," he added.

"Certainly more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return.

"No one says it's disrespectful for someone to return from five or six metres behind the baseline to try to get an advantage.

"So I used it, not to be disrespectful to him, but to say 'if you're going to step further back to return the serve to give yourself more time, then I'm going to exploit that'."

Murray said he never considered the tactic, more associated with Australian maverick Nick Kyrgios in recent years, a sign of disrespect for his opponent.

"I've never understood that. It's a legitimate way of serving," he said.

"I would never use an underarm serve if someone was standing on the baseline because I think it's a stupid idea because they're going to track it down and it's easy to get.

"If they stand four or five metres behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they're not comfortable returning there? Tactically it's a smart play."

Clarke to resume battle on Tuesday

Jay Clarke's battle to remain in Wimbledon will extend into a second day after his first-round match with Christian Harrison was suspended due to bad light.

The Briton was trailing 7-6 (3) 6-1 but had been a break up in the third set only for Harrison to hit back to make it 5-5 before play for the day on Court 18 was called to a halt.

American qualifier Harrison required a medical time-out for an injury to his right foot but limped on and moved to within two games of a place in the next round before the match had to be suspended just after 9pm.

Former Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic is out of the tournament after testing positive for Covid.

Cilic, who lost to Roger Federer in the final in 2017, was due to face Mackenzie McDonald in the first round but will be replaced by Nuno Borges.

"Hey guys, I am sad to share that I tested positive for COVID," Cilic wrote on Twitter.

"I have been self-isolating and was hopeful I would be ready but unfortunately, I am still feeling unwell & unable to compete at my best. I am heartbroken to be missing Wimbledon & to see my grass season end this way. [I am] Looking forward to competing next year!"

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