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Murray negotiates route past feisty Kendrick


 

Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:36

Andy Murrays Wimbledon campaign kicked off with a tough test against Robert Kendrick, winning a tight four-set encounter 7-5 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4.

The world No.3 had beaten the American 6-0 6-0 when they last met in 2006, but Kendrick has since broken the worlds top 100, although he is still without a Tour title. But he didnt let that faze him on a rare outing on a Grand Slam show court.

Kendrick and Murray, now effectively the tournaments second seed, were the third and final match out on Centre Court, emerging from the locker room to find the court half-lit by the dipping sun.

Despite his enthusiasm it was Kendrick who struggled with the conditions early on, dropping serve immediately to hand Murray the initiative as thoughts turned to a routine victory. But any such hopes were soon dashed as the world No.76 began unleashing some outrageous shots and began throwing himself around the court, clearly keen to upset the script.

The American was proving dangerous, and broke back in game eight to level the set before serving three aces and volleying away a fourth point to lead for the first time in the match 5-4. But Murray responded with a break of his own, rattling off three games on the bounce to take the first set 7-5.

The second set was a cagey affair, with both players holding firm on serve until the tie-break, with Kendrick enjoying his role as the unwitting villain. With Becker-esque dive volleys and a barrage of aces, the American entered the breaker on a high and rolled through to win the second.

The crowd on Centre Court and the now firmly established Mount Murray were left on tenterhooks, but the world No.3 is capable of coping with such situations. Kendricks flash of form showed signs of waning in game six of the third, and was made to pay after two double faults and a wild forehand slash.

It was all that Murray needed as he served out to take a 2-1 lead, and although the momentum shift was far from seismic, Murray was certainly more in control of the match from that point onwards. A break in game five calmed any residual nerves as Kendrick was left holding on by the end, saving a match point on his own serve at 5-3.

It merely delayed the inevitable as Murray served out the match, to the relief of himself and the vast majority in the grounds of the All England Club. Kendrick, for his part, had clearly enjoyed his time, and treated the crowd to one last dive on his walk from the court while Murray threw his wares into the crowd.

I was expecting him to come out, go for some big shots, admitted Murray afterwards. He pulled some off at the end of the second set, and he served very well for three sets. It was a tough match.

Asked if he was thinking about the final, Murray remained adamant that he could only take it one game at a time, particularly against his next opponent, Ernests Gulbis.

I need to focus on the next match. Gulbis has caused some upsets in the past and is a huge hitter of the ball. I’m going to need to be on my game to beat him.

And Murray had some strong words for the state of British tennis on a day that saw only one player left in both the mens and womens singles draws.

It’s not acceptable, he said. It’s not sort of picking out any of the players in particular, because I watched some of them play, and some of them played well.

But they aren’t at the same level as a lot of guys. They don’t play at this level too often because they’re not ranked that high, so when the tight moments come, they don’t play as well.

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