Djokovic, Swiatek advance before Wimbledon celebrates British hero Murray


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Djokovic, Swiatek advance before Wimbledon celebrates British hero Murray

FAREWELL. Britain's Andy Murray reacts after the Wimbledon doubles first-round match with brother Jamie Murray versus Australia's John Peers and Australia's Rinky Hijikata.


Having announced that this year was his Wimbledon swan song, Andy Murray ensured there was barely a dry eye on Centre Court

LONDON, UK – Novak Djokovic survived a minor scare in his hunt for a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon trophy before Iga Swiatek produced a more assured display to reach the third round on an emotional Thursday, July 4, marked by the start of Andy Murray’s farewell.

Having announced that this year was his Wimbledon swan song, Murray ensured there was barely a dry eye on Centre Court where the two-time All England Club champion was celebrated by past and present Grand Slam winners after a doubles loss partnering his brother Jamie.

It was a fitting end to a day where several Britons were given top billing before Murray, who will delight fans at least one more time by playing in mixed doubles alongside Emma Raducanu, took center stage.

A montage of Murray’s career highlights was played on a video screen with tributes from Djokovic, Roger Federer, and Rafa Nadal – the three greats Murray went toe-to-toe with so many times throughout his career.

After wiping away a few tears, Murray was asked by Sue Barker, the doyen of BBC sport presenters, about some of his favorite moments – picking out his 2012 Olympic final win over Federer and his second Wimbledon title in 2016 as the ones he enjoyed the most.

Although he said he had not enjoyed his spine-tingling victory over Djokovic on Centre Court in 2013 enough – saying it had been a stressful experience.

There were even some comic revelations from a the self-depreciating Scot who took a few years to earn his nation’s affection but was eventually taken to their hearts.

“I felt way less pressure and I enjoyed it more and that was the favorite of my Slams,” Murray said of his 2016 Wimbledon final triumph over Canadian Milos Raonic which was followed months later by his ride to world No. 1.

“I don’t remember much of that night. I had a few drinks and I did unfortunately vomit in the cab on the way home.”

On a more serious note, Murray said he wished he could “play forever” but his battle-scarred body, including a hip that required career-saving resurfacing surgery in 2019, would no longer allow it.

“Physically it’s just too tough now. All of the injuries have added up. I love this sport. It’s given me so much, taught me loads of lessons over the years that I can use for the rest of my life. I don’t want to stop so it is hard.”

Minor surgery

One local hope, 277th-ranked Jacob Fearnley, surprised fans by pushing Djokovic hard before the 37-year-old Serb advanced with a battling 6-3, 6-4, 5-7, 7-5 victory.

Djokovic, last year’s runner-up, said he was still not at 100% after having minor surgery on his right knee following an injury at last month’s French Open.

“I do feel that has an impact on my movement a little bit in terms of the speed,” said Djokovic, who is bidding to equal the Wimbledon tally of Roger Federer and also capture a record-extending 25th Grand Slam title.

“It’s not yet there where I want it to be. I’m late on the balls that I’m normally not late on.

“That’s the part which I guess comes with matches. So the longer I stay in the tournament, I think the better the chances that my movement will improve.

“The earlier rounds are where I’m still a little bit rusty on the movement. That’s what I felt today, at least.”

Top seed Swiatek, fresh from her Roland Garros success, had no trouble as she powered past Croatian Petra Martic, 6-4, 6-3, to remain on course for her maiden Wimbledon triumph.

“I’m happy to play in a solid way,” said Swiatek, who has now reached at least the third round in 18 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.

“It’s not like I’m going in the first rounds of Grand Slams knowing that I should win or I should take it for granted. I’m ready to battle even in the first rounds.

“I’m happy that I’m consistent, for sure.”

Swiatek’s Polish compatriot and seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz did not have a good day, however, becoming the third men’s top-eight player to exit when he retired from his clash against Frenchman Arthur Fils with a knee injury.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was another casualty after the 11th seed from Greece went down, 7-6(6), 7-6(10), 3-6, 6-3, to Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori in the evening.

On the women’s side, 2022 champion Elena Rybakina endured a mid-match blip to get past Laura Siegemund, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Before Murray and his brother were beaten, 7-6(6), 6-4, by Australians Rinky Hijikata and John Peers, Britain’s big day at Wimbledon did not begin in the most convincing fashion as Lily Miyazaki was thumped, 6-0, 6-0, by Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

Cameron Norrie later beat British No. 1 Jack Draper, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(6), while Harriet Dart and Katie Boulter provided the entertainment in another showdown between local favorites.

Dart prevailed 4-6, 6-1, 7-6(8) in the thriller to set up a meeting with China’s Wang Xinyu, who stunned American fifth seed Jessica Pegula 6-4 6-7(9) 6-1.

Former runner-up Ons Jabeur beat Robin Montgomery 6-1, 7-5 but it was not all gloom for the US on their Independence Day, as Danielle Collins beat Dalma Galfi, 6-3, 6-4 ,and 14th seed Ben Shelton outlasted Lloyd Harris 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(7).

Taylor Fritz, the 13th seed, then saw off Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 before Marcos Giron was thumped, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4, by German fourth seed Alexander Zverev. – Rappler.com

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