Murray improved to 54-9 at the All England Club, where he captured the 2013 (d. Djokovic) and 2016 (d. Raonic) titles, with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 win over Kazakhstani lucky loser Alexander Bublik, who was contesting just his seventh tour-level match.
“I was a bit nervous this morning,” said Murray. “I hadn’t been able to do as much as I would have liked in the build-up. I didn’t know the guy I was playing. Obviously, first match at a slam, there’s always a few extra nerves. Once I got out there and got the early break, saved a couple of break points in my first service game, I felt good. I moved well. So, for a first match, considering how I was feeling five, six days ago, it was really positive.”
The World No. 1 will now challenge German Dustin Brown, who rallied from a set and 3-5 deficit to knock out Joao Sousa of Portugal 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 6-4 in two hours. Brown trails Murray 0-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but will be hoping to draw on memories of his 2015 Wimbledon second-round win over Rafael Nadal.
“Either way he’s the favourite,” said Brown. “I can be pretty relaxed and try and play my game. If I lose in three sets no one is going to worry. I will just go out there and try my best.”
Looking ahead, Murray said, “Dustin plays a lot more up at the net than Bublik. He tends to come out with some great shots. A very entertaining guy to watch. He’s a great mover. A really, really good athlete. He’s a good personality, as well. Always a fun, fun guy to watch.”
Bublik, who replaced Pablo Cuevas in the main draw, started in a confident manner by keeping the points short, but could not convert two break point opportunities in the first game. Murray, who did not appear to be troubled by his hip injury, soon seized control. From 1-1 in the first set to a 2-0 lead in the second set, Murray won seven straight games.
Rain at the start of the third set saw the players head off Centre Court and back to the locker room. Although they soon returned after a nine-minute delay, one game later the groundstaff were forced to cover the court once more. After a 34-minute interruption, Murray resumed with a 2-0 lead and broke again in the seventh game to complete victory in one hour and 43 minutes.
“I played pretty good and moved quite well,” said Murray. “It’s not the easiest match to play because of the way he plays. There’s not loads of rhythm. He’s kind of doing different stuff on each point. I mean, he served some huge, huge serves on first and second serves. He was hitting some 130-mile-an-hour second serves, which you don’t really see much these days. But I hit the ball well. I don’t feel like I made too many unforced errors. I hit the ball pretty clean, got through a tough moment at the end of the second set, did pretty well.”
The 30-year-old Murray has a 30-0 record at the Grand Slam championships against players outside of the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.