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Five to follow: Day 1

A backhand by Dustin Brown.
by Nicholas McCarvel
Monday 23 June 2014

The Championships gets under way on Monday with 64 first-round singles matches, spread across 17 courts. Here, we preview five you should keep your eyes trained on among the slew of opening-day results

[3] Andy Murray (GBR) v David Goffin (BEL)
Centre Court, 1pm
No pressure, Andy. Britain’s first defending champion in 77 years opens play on Centre Court against former top 50 player Goffin, who isn’t a stranger to the big stage. The Belgian ranked No.104 is a shadow of the player who made a big jump two years ago at Roland Garros, giving the nod to a more experienced and harder-hitting Murray. Yet first-match jitters will certainly be with the No.3 seed, who admitted to lingering nerves in his press conference. This is their first meeting.

[8] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO)
No.1 Court, 1pm
There are plenty of players entering The Championships with question marks floating over their heads, but none is bigger than the one accompanying Azarenka. The former world No.1 has played just one match since an ankle injury sidelined her in March, a three-set loss to Camila Giorgi in Eastbourne last week. Lucic-Baroni is a dangerous opponent, having made the semi-finals here back in 1999, but could wreak havoc for Vika should the Belarusian be a touch off. Azarenka owns their only meeting, a 6-3, 6-3 win here in 2010’s first round.

Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor (ESP) v [30] Venus Williams (USA)
No.2 Court, Second after 11:30am
A five-time champion here, Venus, now 34, is back on the court where she suffered her last Wimbledon defeat – two years ago in 2012. The American missed The Championships last year with injury, having lost her opener in 2012 to Elena Vesnina. Torro-Flor is a lesser opponent than the Russian, but nowadays, rust is as sure as anything in the elder Williams’ game, meaning pesky opposition is something she can’t overlook. This is their first meeting.

Dustin Brown (GER) v [WC] Marcos Baghdatis (CYP)
Court 12, Second after 11:30am
If there’s a “People’s Match” on Monday’s schedule, this is it. The wild card Baghdatis is a flashy former top 10 player and meets Brown (above) – dreadlocks in all – in a match that could produce fireworks. The Cypriot comes in ranked No.114, having earned his ticket into The Championships with a win at the Nottingham Challenger two weeks ago. As a qualifier here last year, Brown upset Lleyton Hewitt on his way to a third round appearance, his best-ever major result. Baghdatis won their only career meeting, in 2012 on clay.

[18] Sloane Stephens (USA) v Maria Kirilenko (RUS)
Court 18, 11:30am
A stalwart at the Grand Slams, the American Stephens is 21-6 in the last year and a half in major competition, including a run to the quarter-finals here a year ago. But Kirilenko is a former top 10 player who is slowly making her way back from injury (returned in April), and possesses the kind of game that could give Sloane trouble. Stephens captured their only meeting, back in 2012 on clay.

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