As is tradition, defending champions kick of action on Centre Court at Wimbledon. It will be Andy Murray, who is hoping to rescue his flagging season with another deep run in the tournament. Despite being in (by his standards) terrible form, anything less than a finals appearance would be a disappointment – especially with Roger Federer bumped up to second seed and hence not a potential opponent until the final. Murray begins his tournament against the lucky loser Alexander Bublik.
With the aid of a depleted draw, Murray took home his second Wimbledon title last year. It became the catalyst for the rest of his season, eventually ending in a Year End No.1 spot for him – something that seemed impossible before 2016. It seems unlikely that he can repeat that feat unless he were to go on a similar tear to last year and also won at least one slam, if not both of them.
His warm up for the tournament has been far from ideal too, losing his only competitive match to the fairly unknown Australian Jordan Thompson. Between that and concerns over a hip injury, there is not a lot to be hopeful of although Murray insists he will be fine to compete at the event. “It’s felt much better the last few days, I’ve had hip problems since I was very young. Been very sore the last few weeks” He said on Sunday. “If I feel like I do today, I’ll be fine to play the tournament. I’ll be fine to play seven matches.”
Bublik is one of the few next gen players who has been free from hype, likely due to not breaking into the top 100 as of yet. He did pick up an excellent win at the start of the year in Melbourne, defeating Lucas Pouille, but otherwise has not competed at the top level in a tournament this year. It looked like the Russian would be out of luck after a heartbreaking 12-10 loss in the fifth set against Daniel Brands in qualifying but he was given a reprieve after Pablo Cuevas withdrew. Despite Murray’s struggles, this should be a perfect type of match for him to ease himself into the tournament and not over exert himself in case the hip still is concerning him.
Prediction – Andy Murray in three sets