Murray plays down injury fears to launch Wimbledon defence
Sore hip leads to 'stressful' preparation for the Scot, while Djokovic warms up in ominous fashion
Andy Murray says he is fit and in fine fettle for the start of his Wimbledon title defence today, despite concerns about his injuries.
The world No 1 barely hit a ball in anger last week because of a sore hip, but Murray says it's a minor ailment that is easily treatable should it recur at the All England Club.
"I'll be fine to play the event and play seven matches," said the Scot. "If necessary, I can take some anti-inflammatories if my hip flares up. Hopefully that's not the case."
Murray has a relatively gentle opener, against 20-year-old Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, on Centre Court at 1pm. The pair have never met, at least not on court, although Murray was interviewed by Bublik earlier this year as part of a promotion for a youth tournament. "I was calling him 'Sir Andy Murray,'" said Bublik. "He was like, 'No, Andy is fine.'"
Nonetheless, despite starting the match as firm favourite, Murray will be wary of underestimating his opponent, having suffered a shock straight-sets first-round defeat to Jordan Thompson, the world No 90, at last month's Aegon Championships at Queen's.
That defeat stunned Murray's fans but the Scot says he's feeling in a positive frame of mind as he goes in search of his third Wimbledon title. "The last few days have been very good," Murray said. "Practice each day has got a little bit better. It's been slightly stop-start preparations but each day I've felt better...I'm going out there trying to win Wimbledon again."
Asked about the hip, he said: "It's been sore for a little while now and with each day that I was practising it was feeling a little bit worse. It was hampering my movement and therefore I wasn't getting things out of my practice session.
"Obviously I would have liked to have trained the whole week and got a couple of exhibition matches but the positive from it is that I'm fresh.
"It's just a little bit stressful. Right before the biggest tournament of the year for me as a Brit, you want to be out there practising, and I haven't been in that position before really."
That's not the case for Murray's biggest rival at this year's championships, No 2 seed Novak Djokovic, who is after his fourth title. The Serb warmed up for Wimbledon by beating Gael Monfils 6-3 6-4 to win the Aegon International at Eastbourne on Saturday, his first title since January. "This is the best possible preparation for Wimbledon so hopefully I can go on from here," said Djokovic, who was playing the week before Wimbledon for the first time since 2010. He faces Slovakia's Martin Klizan in the first round while No 3 seed Roger Federer will be up against Alexandr Dolgopolov.
The 35-year-old Swiss is the bookmakers' favourite to win Wimbledon, even though the last of his seven titles was in 2012, but Federer brushed off that prediction. "I think it's very even when we put it all out on the line," he said. "Everybody has their own little story right now. For me, everything that happened sort of before – Queen's for Andy, whatever – doesn't matter so much... Andy's one of the best players in the first week at Wimbledon, so I don't worry too much for him there. He can play himself into shape hopefully for week two."