LONDON, July 3 (Reuters) - There were signs on Monday that Andy Murray was still troubled by the sore hip that had bothered him in the build up to Wimbledon - but they weren’t enough to stop him from marching straight into the second round.
The limp that often appeared to trouble the defending champion between points disappeared the moment the ball was in play, as he easily outclassed maverick Wimbledon debutant Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-4 6-2 to go through.
There was so much uncertainty about the top seed’s form in the days running up to the grasscourt major, one British bookmaker had declared Murray ‘friendless’ in the runup to championships - with punters backing him to lose early rather than win the title for the third time.
Some doomsayers even feared he could become only the third men’s defending champion -- after Manuel Santana in 1967 and Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 -- to lose in the first round.
Others highlighted how Murray was on a two-match losing streak against players classified as lucky losers -- as Bublik was having lost in the final round of qualifying but made it into the main draw thanks to another player’s withdrawal.
But any hopes that the 135th-ranked Kazakh could add his name to that illustrious list of ‘lucky losers’ were swiftly extinguished as Murray did not let Bublik’s array of unconventional shots, or two rain breaks, throw him off course as he secured a second round showdown with German showman Dustin Brown.
“Getting out on the match court... the adrenaline helps numb some of the pain. I moved well today and thought I did pretty well for the first match,” Murray said after walking off court.
”I’ll spend some time with my physio this evening, get an ice bath, then have a light practice tomorrow. I’ll work a bit on my passing shots and lobs because it will be a different match against Dustin Brown.” (Editing by Hugh Lawson)