Britain’s Andy Murray began the defence of his Wimbledon title with a straight-set win over Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik on Centre Court. The Scot won 6-1 6-4 6-2, despite a hip injury which disrupted his build-up.
Also yesterday, Rafael Nadal’s bid for a third Wimbledon title began with a straightforward win over John Millman to reach the second round.
The Spanish world number two, winner at the All England Club in 2008 and 2010, won 6-1 6-3 6-2.
Murray, the world number one, hit 29 winners and maintained his form either side of a rain break in the third set to win in one hour and 44 minutes.
The 30-year-old will face Germany’s Dustin Brown – the man who beat Rafael Nadal in 2015 – in round two.
Murray is trying to match fellow Briton Fred Perry as a three-time singles champion and claim his fourth Grand Slam title.
He also faces a battle with Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka to keep hold of his number one ranking.
Murray finally got his first grass-court win of the year as he saw off the confident but inexperienced Bublik with few problems.
The Scot lost in the first round at Queen’s Club two weeks ago, and then picked up the hip injury which forced him to withdraw from two exhibition matches and curtail his practice.
Murray declared himself fit over the weekend and had the honour of opening play on Centre Court as the defending champion, but there were still signs of discomfort between points against Bublik.
A modest average service speed of 113mph suggested he was taking things carefully, but 29 winners at the net showed Murray was still able to move forward when necessary.
“With the adrenaline, it helps numb some pain that you might have and I moved well today,” Murray told BBC Sport.
“I thought I did pretty well for the first match.”
Bublik, 20, was not lacking in confidence, arriving for his Centre Court debut wearing headphones and clearly relishing the big stage.
However, the gulf in experience was vast, and it soon showed.
Bublik, ranked 135, had lost in qualifying but made it through as a lucky loser following withdrawals from the main draw, and was playing only his seventh Tour-level match.
He had two chances to unsettle the champion, and the home crowd, with break points in the opening game, but Murray steered his way calmly out of trouble and took control.
Two breaks of serve brought him the first set as he deftly moved his opponent around the court, while Bublik did not help his cause with some erratic play.
By the time he fell a break down in the second set, the Kazakh had hit nine aces but eight double faults, and 20 errors to just four from Murray.
There was a danger moment to overcome when Murray fell 0-40 down while serving for the second set, but one rasping forehand winner among five consecutive points brought him a two-set lead.
A rain delay threatened to disrupt his rhythm, but with the roof kept open he returned to win four of the next six games and seal a comfortable victory.
“I wasn’t thinking about the rain too much. I felt comfortable underfoot today,” said Murray.
“In the first few days, normally the court is a bit lush and can be a bit slippy, but I didn’t feel like I was losing my footing at all.”