Wimbledon: Andy Murray’s farewell begins with doubles defeat

Andy Murray‘s Wimbledon farewell got off to a difficult start on Thursday as he was knocked out of the men’s doubles in the first round alongside his older brother Jamie with a 7-6 (6), 6-4 loss to Australian pair Rinky Hijikata and John Peers.

Clearly having his movement limited by back pain, Andy Murray had to rely on his service game as he battled through the straight-sets defeat that potentially leaves him with one match left to play at the tournament.

The two-time Wimbledon singles champion withdrew from his first-round singles match on Tuesday, having not recovered in time from a spinal cyst procedure that left him with reduced feeling in his right leg.

However, Murray’s decision to take to the court alongside his brother in the doubles generated considerable excitement at the All England Club as supporters reckoned with the prospect of seeing the British tennis legend compete at the championships for one final time.

The British duo were welcomed onto Centre Court with a standing ovation by a raucous home support for what was the first men’s doubles opening-round match to be played on the main show court since 1995.

Having taken the first game with a fierce drive down the middle, Murray first reached for his back at the end of the second. He winced in pain and took every opportunity to stretch his back between points.

Despite his fitness issues, Murray almost secured the first break of the match in the fifth game when a sweet forehand down the line from Hijikata’s serve brought up deuce, but the Australians were able to hold.

With a tiebreak needed to separate the two pairs after they traded games, the Murrays let a 6-5 set point lead slip as two high-class shots from Hijikata — a forehand down the line past Jamie Murray, followed by a volley down the middle — put the Brits on the back foot.

Centre Court were treated to their first Murray roar of the match as Jamie Murray, a two-time doubles Grand Slam champion, secured the first break of serve by lurching forward to the net and sending back a volley that Hijikata and Peers were unable to reach.

But the Australian duo broke straight back in a seventh game to move into a 4-3 lead that seemed to break the Brits’ resolve. And so it proved, as Hijikata and Peers navigated the remaining games to move into the second round at the Murrays’ expense.

Asked about his thoughts on playing doubles with his brother, Andy told the BBC, “Yeah it was obviously really special. We never got the chance to do it before. There was a chance this year.

“Jamie’s usual partner was playing with Neal Skupski, so he asked me. Obviously it was a bit of a race against time to try and get out here, and physically it wasn’t easy today, but I’m glad we were able to get out here and do this one time together.”

Andy Murray is due to take to the court again later this week after Wimbledon organizers announced on Wednesday that he had entered the mixed doubles draw alongside fellow Brit Emma Raducanu after the pair were given a wild-card entry. The mixed doubles competition begins on Friday.

Wimbledon will also not be the last time that he will play professional tennis. While Murray has said that he will retire this summer, he is planning to make his final bow at the Paris Olympics, which start later this month at Roland Garros.

First appeared on www.espn.com

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