Wimbledon: Andy Murray glad to be back on Centre Court as his alliance with Serena Williams starts well

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Andy Murray was happy that he ended his Centre Court exile with Serena Williams at his side as Wimbledon’s new power couple got their mixed doubles pairing off to a flying start.

Murray was back on his favourite court 724 days after he hobbled off in 2017 and he and the 23-time grand-slam winner beat Andreas Mies and Alexa Guarachi 6-4 6-1 on their debut outing.

These two are used to winning on Centre – they have claimed nine singles titles between them – and they proved that no matter how new the partnership, old habits die hard.

“For me it was a great experience being back on Centre Court with Serena after the last year or so being tough. It was nice. I enjoyed it,” the Scot said.

“I think like towards the end of the match when you’re kind of in control on the scoreboard, it’s easier to sort of relax and enjoy it, whereas the first set, we were obviously taking it seriously to win.”

Never has a mixed-doubles partnership received so much attention, but it did not disappoint as Williams’ baseline power and Murray’s guile at the net means they will be a real force in this discipline.

Williams admitted that she was feeling nervous beforehand, perhaps which accounts for her playing the first two points of the match with her accreditation lanyard around her neck, but the American performed better than she expected.

“At some point I started feeling a lot of pressure,” she said. “‘Oh, my God, I have to do well because this match is so hyped that I want to see it’.

“I didn’t even want to be in it, I kind of just wanted to watch it. Maybe I’ll try to get a video of it or watch it somewhere.

“Overall I think I was able to handle my nerves pretty good, do better than I thought I was going to do.

“It’s definitely awesome to share a court with Andy, especially this particular stage. Like I said, whenever you’re a grand-slam winner, you always learn something.

“But, yeah, we are still young in our relationship on the court. We still have a lot to learn.”

Victory will have provided some comfort for Murray after his defeat in the men’s doubles with Pierre-Hugues Herbert earlier in the day.

Despite winning the first set, they went down 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-2 6-3 to sixth seeds Nikola Metkic and Franko Skugor.

Murray would have been hoping to go deep in the tournament, but was not too disappointed.

“It’s not a blow really in the grand scheme of things,” he said. “I know you guys (the media) were talking about winning the doubles, winning mixed doubles, playing 12 matches in 11 days, things like that.

“I was aware that that wasn’t going to be the case most likely. We played against a really good team today that are ranked five or six in the world.

“The first two sets I felt like we were the better team.

“I think if we got the second, I think we would have run away with it. We lost a tough game at the end of the second. Those guys played really well the last couple of sets.”

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Andy Murray and Serena Williams to form mixed doubles dream team at Wimbledon

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Andy Murray and Serena Williams will link up to play mixed doubles at Wimbledon, the Scot’s team confirmed on Tuesday evening.

The partnership, which seemed little more than a media dream when it was first mooted on Saturday, had grown increasingly more likely over the past couple of days and, after Williams safely came through her first-round singles test, it became reality.

The pair will sign in ahead of the deadline at 11am on Wednesday, thrusting what is traditionally the least heralded of the five main draws firmly into the spotlight.

Positives noises from Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, were the first real hint that it could happen, and Murray added further intrigue on Monday when he said he was 90 per cent sure who he would play with and that it could “possibly” be the American.

Williams continued to tease the possibility after beating Guilia Gatto-Monticone in the first round of the singles, suggesting she could do with the extra time on court.

The 37-year-old, who has been battling knee problems for much of the last few months, was in a playful mood in her press conference.

“I’m just going to see how I feel today, then go from there,” she said, refusing to confirm her intentions.

“I’m still kind of in the singles mode, trying to figure that part out. We’ll see. I could use extra matches, though, so it could be something.”

Asked for a percentage of how likely it was that she would team up with Murray, she replied: “I don’t know. If you guys really want it, then maybe I’ll do it.

“All right, done, just for you guys. Don’t forget. If you guys want it.”

Williams won the mixed doubles title at Wimbledon 21 years ago with Max Mirnyi but has played only once at a grand slam in 20 years while Murray’s mixed-doubles experience has come at the Hopman Cup and in the Olympics, where he won a silver medal in 2012 with Laura Robson.

He has won favour from Williams in the past for speaking out on feminism and she was glowing in her praise for him on Tuesday.

“We’re a lot alike on the court,” she added. “I’ve always liked that about him. Talking about work ethic, his work ethic is just honestly off the charts. That’s something I’ve always respected about him. His fitness, everything.

“To do what he’s done in an era where there are so many other great male tennis players, so much competition, to rise above it, not many people have done it. He’s actually one of the few.

“There are so many things to be admired. Above all, he really stands out, he really speaks up about women’s issues, no matter what.

“You can tell he has a really strong woman in his life. I think above all that is just fantastic.”

Murray will open his men’s doubles campaign on Thursday alongside Pierre-Hugues Herbert, with the pair taking on Frenchman Ugo Humbert and Romania’s Marius Copil.

Herbert declared himself fit on Monday after doubts over a thigh problem, and there was some concern for Murray’s fitness on Tuesday, with the 32-year-old stopping practice 20 minutes earlier than scheduled and limping off court.

Murray is three weeks into his comeback following a second operation on his right hip in January.

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Rafael Nadal criticises Wimbledon's seeding system

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Rafael Nadal has questioned Wimbledon’s seeding system as the Spaniard looks set to be placed third when they are announced on Wednesday.

Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam of the year to operate with a different seeding structure, meaning world number two Nadal is likely to be behind both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

While the US, French and Australian Opens use the ATP and WTA rankings for their seed placings, Wimbledon’s take grass-court performances into account.

Defending champions Djokovic and world number three Federer are therefore expected to be above Nadal – who will begin the challenge of winning his fourth title at SW19 from next week.

“I don’t think it is a good thing that Wimbledon is the only one with its own seeding formula,” he told Spanish TV station Vamos.

“Wimbledon is the only tournament of the year that doesn’t follow the rankings.

“It’s their choice – Either way, being second or third seed, I have to play at the best level to aspire to the things I aspire to.

“It is better to be second than third, but if they consider that I have to be third I will accept.”

Seeding third will leave Nadal in the same half of the draw as Djokovic, who beat him over five sets in last year’s semi-final en route to lifting the trophy.

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