By Claire Stanley
Grass court season is officially underway and – true to form – it took approximately one hour for the rain delays to begin. We’ve missed you so much!
The most important tournament of the week kicked off today in Surbiton, England, where former world number 1, three-time major champion, two-time Olympic champion, Davis Cup winner, and all-round legend Sir Andy Murray took to the glorious green courts to start his grass domination.
The number 1 seed took on Austria’s Jurij Rodionov in the first round, and safe to say it was an annihilation (6-2 6-1) – if Murray plays this way all tournament it will set him up nicely for the coming weeks. We’ve got a strong field this week – with players including Adrian Mannarino, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Denis Kudla – in Surbiton but judging by today’s performance, Murray has a real shot at going all the way.
As ever (ok, most of the time) Murray was a joy to watch on grass – his best surface and (personally) his best shot at glory once again. His movement was impeccable, his serving delicious (albeit with a couple of double faults) and the fire in his belly was well and truly burning.
In previous Challengers many have commented that Murray doesn’t look as enthused as he would do if he were playing a slam, or a Masters 1000 – or even an ATP 250. Which is understandable, but something I felt he needed to get over – that enthusiasm was there today. He was fired up, fist pumping, cheering at the important points: he wanted the win. He wants to win the tournament. He didn’t go out there today to make up the numbers and he won’t go out there for his second round match to give his opponent target practice.
A potential quarter final against the USA’s Brandon Nakashima beckons, a real rub-your-hands-together-in-anticipation match. Providing he reaches that stage – I’m certain he will – and he comes through it unscathed, I’m feeling pretty confident that we’ll see Andy Murray crowned Surbiton champion on Sunday.
And if not… well I apologise in advance for being the new Scott Barclay and jinxing my favourite by getting carried away.