Andy Murray Beats James Duckworth In Four Sets, Throws In A Cheeky Under-Arm Serve

The two-time champion came from a set down to win his first round match
22:58, 27 Jun 2022

Andy Murray has always got on well with Nick Kyrgios – and maybe he has been spending a bit too much time with the maverick Australian, after throwing in a cheeky under-arm serve in his four-set win over James Duckworth on Wimbledon’s Centre Court on Monday night.

The 35-year-old Scot, a two-time champion at SW19, got his latest campaign at his home grand slam up and running by coming from a set down to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 under the lights and the roof to leave the crowd delighted as they headed off into the gloom at almost 10pm.

As Murray closed in on a two-set lead his 30-year-old opponent Duckworth – who like Murray has also had hip surgery in a career blighted by injury – started complaining to the umpire about the light. It was perhaps no coincidence this came as Murray was taking complete control of the contest.

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But Murray’s momentum survived the break as the roof was closed and the lights switched on to whoops of excitement from the spectators, and ultimately the match was a perfect workout that sawe him moving very well with no sign of distress from the abdominal problem suffered in the recent final in  Stuttgart when losing in three sets to Matteo Berrettini.

Murry has always had one of the widest range of shots in his repertoire on the circuit, and most of them were on show. But it was the underarm serve that had people raising eyebrows, just the second time he has ever employed a tactic that is very much Kyrgios’s calling-card and seen as poor etiquette in certain more traditional circles.

Next up for Murray will be American giant John Isner, a player with a huge serve – and breaks are likely to be at a premium in that match. Murray, though, has never lost to Isner and will be confident that if he can get rallies beyond about two shots, his greater variety should once again kick in.

Murray said: “With the underarm serve, he changed his return position. That's why I did it. He was standing very close to return, then he was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two metres further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in.

“I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have. Certainly more and more players have started returning from further, further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return. The underarm serve is a way of saying, If you're going to step back there, then I'm going to possibly throw that in.

I don't know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful. I've never understood that. It's a legitimate way of serving. I would never use an underarm serve if someone was standing on the baseline because I think it's a stupid idea because they're going to track it down and it's easy to get.

“If they stand four or five meters behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they're not comfortable returning there? Tactically it's a smart play. No one says it's disrespectful for someone to return from six metres back behind the baseline to try to get an advantage. So I used it not to be disrespectful to him but to say, If you're going to step further back to return the serve to give yourself more time, then I'm going to exploit that.”

And on a clean bill of health fitness-wise, Murray added: “The ab felt fine today, to be honest. The last few days when I've been serving was fine. I went to get a scan, an ultrasound scan on it on Saturday after my practice just to see how it was progressing. It was all clear for the first time on the scans, which is really positive.

“So, yeah, I wanted that kind of for my own peace of mind to know that the injury has healed. Obviously I still need to take precautions and still do some rehab and protect it when I can. In the match today it was absolutely fine.

“It was amazing to be back here again with a full crowd after the last few years, an amazing atmosphere. I’m getting on a bit now. I don’t know how many opportunities I will get to play on this court, and I want to make the most of them.

“I am glad I got through, hopefully I’ll get another match in a couple of days. I did well to rebound after the first set, he likes playing on the grass and he has come back from hip surgery.

“But once I found my returns as the match went on, I felt comfortable and I did well to get through. There are always nerves and pressures and butterflies and stress before the first match. It was a longer build up for me due to the ab injury in Stuttgart. I have done a lot of practice here. So it is great to get a win, and hopefully I’ll play better from here on.”

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