Defending champion Andy Murray will learn later today who he plays in the first round of the Wimbledon Championships next week, but whoever his opponent there will be a sense of trepidation on the part of the World No 1.
The two-times Wimbledon champion, who has spent 36 weeks at the top of the rankings, is still struggling to shake off a hip injury that forced his withdrawal from the Hurlingham Club this week, denying Murray some much-needed practice ahead of next week's first round match. Attributing his decision to pull out to a "sore hip", the 30-year-old Scot has not hit a ball since Tuesday morning and time is running out to fine tune his game before he steps onto centre court on Monday to begin the defence of his title.
Murray's coach, Ivan Lendl, brushed off concerns that the Scot might not be fit, responding with a "not at all" when asked if he was worried about the physical state of the champion. "I’m very pleased with the two weeks we had," said Lendl, who explained that Murray had practised with Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov at the start of the week. "Unlike [the build up to] Paris, he is hitting the ball really well. Practice has gone well. He was hitting two days ago with Dimitrov and hitting the ball great."
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Nonetheless, at the back of Murray's mind will be what happened at the Queen’s Club at the start of last week, when he lost in straight sets to Jordan Thompson, the World No 90. "Hopefully I get enough time on the court these next couple of weeks and work on some things, because I'm going to need to," said Murray in the wake of the shock defeat. "If I play like that, I certainly won't win Wimbledon."
Lendl says the loss to Thompson was nothing out of the ordinary, noting that in the same round of the Queen's tournament Stan Wawrinka and Milos Raonic also suffered embarrassing exits. "The first match on grass is always tricky," said Lendl. "The guys who beat Stan, Milos and Andy had played qualifying or the previous week at a tournament...It's not that surprising to see those guys lose to a guy who had already been on grass for two weeks or played two or three matches. I don't care how good you are. We have seen that movie over and over."
According to The Times Murray has been treating his hip with sessions of "gyrotonic, a form of exercise that uses elements of yoga and t'ai chi", and the tennis world will discover on Monday whether it's been successful.
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