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
Five unforced errors in three sets and one hour and 36 minutes (and four of them came in the last three games when he was cruising), another potentially dangerous and unorthodox opponent dismissed in style and a place in the third round booked.
“Until right at the end of the match, the last three games when I didn’t serve particularly well, the rest of the match I served well,” Murray said, looking and sounding very pleased with his efforts. “I was getting a lot of free points there. I served a lot bigger than I did in the first round which was good, he wasn’t able to attack my second serve like he tries to do. So that was positive.
“I moved pretty well, too. Against guys that play a lot of drop shots and come forward, you need to move well and I did that.”
It had been described as a ‘popcorn’ match which for those of us born in the earlier reaches of last century, took a bit of researching. But it was billed as a match that would have you glued to your sofa, armchair, TV, phone, tablet or mobile device (we cover all platforms here at Wimbledon.com) or, if you were one of the 14,979 lucky souls who had a ticket, Centre Court seat wolfing popcorn as the drama unfolded.
Somehow, it is difficult to compare either the mind-bendingly competitive world No.1 nor the exuberant, creative and utterly unpredictable, dreadlocked German with a cinema snack.
The thing is that popcorn is not… well, it’s not really Wimbledon. Then again, a ‘strawberries and cream’ match does not sum up the mood, a ‘cream tea’ match sounds very messy and a ‘Pimms and petunias’ match just sounds weird. Popcorn it was, then, as we waited to see how Murray’s delicate hip was faring and how far Brown’s outrageous talents would take him. Whatever your comestible of choice, this match had entertainment written all over it.
Brown has not cut his hair since 1996, heady days (pardon the obvious gag) when Murray was still only nine years old and merely dreaming of becoming a Wimbledon champion. These days, he has two replica trophies to dust at home with plans to expand the collection if given half a chance. The question was: would Brown give him that chance to keep the plan on track?
I served a lot bigger than I did in the first round which was good
The answer was soon clear: not if Brown could possibly help it. Everyone knew what Murray would do in the afternoon sunshine (try to serve well, nail his returns, keep the errors to a minimum and repel all aggressors with the sort of defence that makes grown men cry and then, in the blinking of an eye, pluck a clean winner out of thin air) but Brown? Who knew what was coming next.
He began with a flurry of drop shots, so many in fact that it set the cogs whirring in the brain box. What is the collective noun for drop shots? A feather of drop shots? A descent of drop shots? A dumpster of drop shots? Oh, hang on – Brown had moved on. To add to the touch and finesse, he was leathering his serve, he was volleying, he was cracking his returns.
No two rallies were the same and no one shot was causing Murray problems but, rather, the infinite variety was keeping the world No.1 guessing. The backhand drive volley played with both feet off the ground while hurtling forward at warp-factor speed had even Tim Henman in the commentary booth flipping through the training manual to see exactly what that stroke truly was. Needless to say, the move was not listed; it was just another Dustin Special.
Yet for all the flamboyance, for all the outlandish shotmaking, Brown is anything but consistent. It stands to reason that he is going to miss with some of those make-it-up-as-you-go-along sizzling winners. So, to make sure that he was ready to make the most of any opportunity, Murray battened down the hatches on his side of the net.
In the first set, the Scot conceded just one unforced error and neatly put away 14 winners. He did not show Brown a glimpse of a break point and he waited for an opening to present itself. The first came in the third game – his first break point – but Brown wriggled off the hook. But when he created another, he was rewarded: Brown double faulted on set point. Murray was taking charge.
And so it went on. Murray was as sharp as a tack to be alive to anything that Brown could create. He growled a little when he missed the chance of the early break in the second set but his brow was unfurrowed a few minutes later when broke for 3-2. And then broke again a couple of games after that. When he broke yet again for a 2-1 lead in the third set, it was game over.
Now it is over to Fabio Fognini on Friday to see if he can make a dent in Murray’s titanium defences.