Murray defence up and running

  • Last Updated: June 23 2014, 20:10 BST

Andy Murray completed his transformation from Dennis the Menace to hero of the tennis establishment as he stepped back onto Centre Court for the beginning of his Wimbledon title defence.

Andy Murray en route to victory over David Goffin at Wimbledon
Andy Murray en route to victory over David Goffin at Wimbledon

The 27-year-old was given a rare standing ovation by not just the crowd on Centre Court but also the Royal Box when he walked out for his first-round match against Belgian David Goffin.

Playing the first match of the tournament on Centre is an honour reserved for the reigning champion and Murray ensured it was a happy return to the hallowed turf as he defeated Goffin 6-1 6-4 7-5.

Centre Court was on its feet again as he headed back to the locker room and it was a reception that touched Murray, who next meets Slovenian Blaz Rola.

He said: "It was nice. I was pretty nervous before the match. Then when you're walking to the court, I have a lot of memories obviously from last year.

"To come to the court and get that reception, it was very nice to come out. I think the crowd was pretty much full from the start. It was great.

"I enjoyed it for the walk to the chair. Then when I sat down, it was time to get on with business."

It was also announced on Monday, meanwhile, that Murray will be the guest editor of the next edition of The Beano.

The Scot identified as a child with the comic's scruffy-haired schoolboy anti-hero Dennis the Menace, and would surely have never imagined himself taken to the hearts of the British tennis elite in the way he eventually has been.

"That was a magazine that I read a lot when I was a kid, it was good fun," said Murray.

"I was a bit like Dennis probably. I wasn't particularly well-behaved when I was a kid. My mum would definitely say that. It's a nice thing to do."

Murray woke up with butterflies in his stomach on Sunday morning but he did not show any early nerves, easing into a 3-0 lead.

Goffin, ranked 105, was a relatively kind draw, the Belgian a talented but rather lightweight player who had not won a grand slam match for two years.

Goffin grew into the match and pushed Murray in the third set, but the Scot saved the only two break points he faced in the match and clinched victory with his eighth ace.

"I was probably a bit more nervous yesterday than I was today," he said.

"But it does help if you can get ahead early like I did. That helped settle the nerves down a little bit.

"I played very well. I hit the ball very well. I hit the ball clean from the beginning of the match.

"I thought the second and third sets were very high level. I thought he played very well. He was aggressive. He goes for his shots. He moves extremely well. He's very quick around the court. He has great hands up at the net as well.

"He played a bad game from 40-0 up at 5-5 in the third set. But it was very good."

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.

Murray 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.

Much has been made of Murray hiring a female coach but it was the match of personalities and shared experiences on the court that persuaded the Scot that Mauresmo was the right fit.

Her love of wine will not be a frequent topic of conversation - "It would be pretty one-sided," said the virtually teetotal Murray - but he did seek Mauresmo's advice on defending a Wimbledon title, which she did in 2007.

"We went to dinner and I spoke to her a little bit about it and asked her how she dealt with it," said Murray.

"One of the things she said was she tried to take in the atmosphere and the experience of walking out on the court as the defending champion. You never know if you'll get the chance to do it again.

"She has quite clear memories of doing that herself. We talked about the other things that come with it as well, the extra pressure."

Murray's father Willie and grandparents Roy and Shirley Erskine watched on from the Royal Box along with his fellow Scottish sporting great Sir Jackie Stewart and former basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.

Murray, a big fan of O'Neal's former side Miami Heat, met the 7ft 1in American after his match.

"He's a big boy, that's for sure," said the Scot. "He was huge. He's very entertaining. I watch him on the TV a lot when I'm over in the States."

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

Rola, who beat Pablo Andujar in straight sets, admits he does not know what to expect when he takes to Centre Court for the first time, if the match is to be played there.

"Nothing can prepare me for this,'' he said after his win on the tiny Court Five.

"I am going to walk up that stand and see how many people are actually watching this because I actually really never stepped on the Centre Court here.''