Qualifying begins: 26 June
The Draw: 30 June
Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July
Order of Play: 2 July
Championships begin: 3 July
COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE
The nerves have gone, Wimbledon is well and truly into its stride and Andy Murray is now in his pomp.
The former champion barely had time to break a sweat as he cantered past Robin Haase and into the third round 6-1, 6-1, 6-4. After the slightly scratchy start against Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday, this was a far more controlled, confident and relaxed display by one of the favourites for the title.
Against Kukushkin, Murray spent his time at some of the changeovers giving himself a serious talking to. The opening match of a Grand Slam tournament is always a bit fraught and at the biggest grand slam of them all, when you are the local hero, it must be a little nerve twanging.
Worse still, when Murray knows that for the first time since 2013 he is mentally and physically, technically and tactically ready to start winning Grand Slam titles again. The weight, then, of personal expectation is immense and so a first round has the potential to be a banana skin.
Once those openers are over, though, a chap can relax into his normal routines – and Murray routinely beats Haase. Admittedly, the tall, hard-hitting Dutchman often makes the world No.3 work for his victory but Murray still had a 3-1 winning record over him. The No.3 seed was determined to maintain that level of domination and from the very start, he was fast, he was taking on every ball and he was playing with power and with finesse. He was very, very good for almost every game of every set.
On the other side of the net, it was all going horribly wrong. Haase seemed to have come to the court with a distinct plan: be aggressive. In his early days, the Dutchman used to be very direct about his tennis – hit the ball hard and if in doubt, hit it harder. He can serve thunderbolts, he can deliver pile-drivers from the baseline but both depend upon his ability to time the ball. And against Murray, Haase had forgotten to wind up his watch.
The first set whistled by in just 20 minutes as the world No.3 was in total command.
Like ace students proudly taking their report cards home to Mum and Dad, players are often seen clutching stats sheets after their matches (sometimes their assessment of the match and the number crunchers’ view of events vary slightly and the players all want to know how and why) and Murray will like the stats he sees from the opening seven games. There was only one unforced error, his first serve was down at the 38 per cent accuracy mark (definitely room for improvement) but his second serve was outstanding – 100 per cent points won there. Some of those second serves were pinging in at 103 and 104mph. That really is a novelty.
The second set was not quite as clean and it was a couple of games before Murray won a point on that once splendiferous second serve. There were a few forehand errors, a few fluffs that came out of the blue, but still Scotland’s finest was sprinting away from his foe. There may have been a momentary dip in intensity but it really did not matter, not against Haase in this sort of form.
Only in the third set did Haase show any signs of making a fight of it. With absolutely nothing to lose, he started to swing a little more freely, but Murray was quick to spot the danger. When the Dutchman had the temerity to win a couple of points against the Scot’s serve, Murray attacked and forced the error from the Haase racket (a backhand miss, as it happens). “Come on! Here we go!” Murray growled to himself. Haase was not to be given any hint of a chance. Sure enough, every challenge was snuffed out and every threat was thwarted and after an hour and 27 minutes, Murray was safely into the third round.