By Derren Howard
There was not a hint of a hip-related hobble as Andy Murray blasted Stan Wawrinka off court in two sets at Devonshire Park.
Murray, 31, moved well and looked sharp as he recorded his first victory in almost a year following surgery on his right hip.
His 6-1 6-3 victory against Wawrinka, himself easing his way back to fitness after a double knee surgery, came in one-hour and 18 minutes in perfect conditions on a packed centre court.
It sets up a second round tie with Kyle Edmund on Wednesday, who replaced Murray as British No 1.
“Kyle has been fantastic and is a great player who is improving all the time,” said Murray. “He has a great team behind him. He is getting close to the top of the game which is a credit to him and his team. I am expecting a tough match and will try to play my best.
“Obviously I am very happy to get the win,” added Murray. “I thought the first set I played well, but the second set was patchy and I was a bit nervous. When you haven’t played for the best part of a year, when you face someone like Stan it is tough. But obviously I am delighted to get the win.
“I was saying to my team before the draw I have no ranking now after Wimbledon so I wouldn’t be on the computer. So I look at someone like Juan Martin del Potro and he has had some tough draws coming back form injury. You have to accept.”
Of his chances of playing at Wimbledon, he said, “I am going to decide nearer the time. I need to see how my body pulls up. I’ll see how I am tomorrow and take it from there.”
The Scot, who has two Wimbledon titles to his name, looked confident from the start as his serve and backhand slice in-particular caused problems for Wawrinka. The Swiss was broken at 3-1 and the three time grand slam champion rarely looked like getting back into the match as Murray closed out the first set in less than 30 minutes.
Murray’s level improved in the second and at 1-1 he scampered across the baseline and crunched a forehand winner up the line. It was his best shot of the match so far, he pumped his fist, the crowd loved it and Murray was back.
It could not have gone better for Murray. He had the fans on their feet once more at 3-2. A fierce rally saw Murray running full tilt and with all the weight and momentum on his right hip, he stooped, angled his racket perfectly and his back hand lob was too high for Wawrinka and landed nicely inside the baseline. “Go on Andy,” was the cry from 6,000 fans.
And he did go on to a comfortable victory - more importantly, there was so sign of the injury that looked so painful at Wimbledon last year.