Murray brings Wimbledon to its feet

Hampshire Chronicle: Andy Murray won the first match of his Wimbledon defence Andy Murray won the first match of his Wimbledon defence

Andy Murray began the defence of his Wimbledon title with a standing ovation and left Centre Court to another one after a straightforward first-round win over David Goffin.

The queue for Centre Court tickets had been full before it even officially opened as excitement about Murray's return to the All England Club united the country once more.

And his opening match proved to be the perfect way to calm the butterflies for Murray and his fans alike as the third seed wrapped up a 6-1 6-4 7-5 victory in two hours and two minutes.

Even those in the Royal Box, where his grandparents and father Willie were seated, stood to acclaim Murray as he walked out to open the tournament on the main show court, the privilege of the reigning men's champion.

He relished his welcome, saying: "It was nice. It brought back a lot of good memories. It's nice to walk out to a full crowd for the first match.

"I got a nice round of applause.

"Last year was the best memory I've had but I've had a lot of tough moments on that court as well so there's a lot of things I think about."

Much has changed since the glorious summer's day last July when Murray defeated Novak Djokovic to end Fred Perry's 77-year reign as the last British men's singles champion.

He chose to have back surgery last September, a decision that helped him move on from his Wimbledon triumph, and has not won a title or reached a final since.

He split from Ivan Lendl in March, and replacing his glowering presence in Murray's support camp was former Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo, his equally high-profile new coach.

But on the pristine court all was much the same as Murray quelled his nerves to ease into a 3-0 lead against Goffin, a talented but rather lightweight player ranked 105th.

Alarm bells were sounded when Murray lost in the third round at Queen's but he played some of the best clay-court tennis of his life on his way to the semi-finals of the French Open earlier this month and was striking the ball crisply here.

A lovely top-spin lob gave him another break of serve to lead 5-1 and he took his first set point when Goffin could not handle a big serve.

The Belgian's biggest achievement was reaching the fourth round at the French Open in 2012 and pushing his boyhood hero Roger Federer to four sets.

But he had lost his last seven grand slam matches, admittedly not helped by some very tough draws.

Murray moved ahead early in the second set as well, breaking for 2-1, and then clinched it with his third ace.

The crowd had been largely fairly quiet as Murray cruised through the match but they roused themselves as Goffin made a big effort at the start of the third set.

The Belgian brought up his first two break points in the fourth game but Murray was rock solid in saving them both.

It looked like Goffin would force a tie-break at least when he led 40-0 at 5-5 but Murray won the next five points to leave himself serving for the match.

He trailed 0-30 but fought back and a wayward Goffin forehand at the end of a long rally gave him a first match point, which he took with an ace.

In his second-round match on Wednesday, Murray will play Slovenian world number 92 Blaz Rola.

Elsewhere, British wild-card James Ward went down in straight sets to Mikhail Youzhny, the 17th seed from Russia.

Ward, set to pocket £27,000 in consolation after being handed a place in the first round, said: "I thought he played very well and executed his game. I obviously didn't play as well as I would hoped. That was about it, but you've got to take the loss on the chin and move forward."

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