Andy Murray took care of business on Centre Court, breezing through his Wimbledon first round, before he took a cheeky swipe at Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky, with whom he disagrees about the issue of equal prize money in tennis.
Stakhovsky is a strong and very vocal opponent to equal prize money in the sport while Murray is in support of both men and women getting the same paychecks at the same tournaments.
With Murray getting elected to the ATP Player Council this week for the first time, joining long-time council member Stakhovsky, the Ukrainian said he believes the world No2 will change his views on equal prize money now that he has a place at the negotiations table.
World No1 Novak Djokovic was also elected, although not for the first time.
“Maybe when they get to be part of the negotiation of prize money they will see what it means to increase the prize money and what it means to be pulled back by equal prize money,” Stakhovsky was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“It is emotional but I don’t see it as rational. Equal prize money, I’ve never changed my stance in eight years. WTA is a different product from ATP. I think they should earn more than they are earning now, but I don’t see why ATP is trying to push somewhere and they always think they deserve the same.”
Murray, who beat his fellow Brit Liam Broady 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the second round, was told about Stakhovsky’s comments and whether he predicts he would change his mind regarding equal pay.
“I wouldn’t have thought so, to be honest. I know there’s certain events, like in Washington, for example, where for the men, it’s a 500 (level tournament), for the women, it’s a smaller event. In Brisbane, the men, it’s a 250 event, for the women, it’s a bigger event. You know, things like that you can understand a little bit more,” said Murray, who once had a brief Twitter exchange with Stakhovsky about the matter.
“But, no. Sergiy isn’t always right. Everyone has opinions. I’m wrong sometimes. He’s also wrong sometimes.”
In the first all-British meeting at Wimbledon since 2001, Murray needed just one hour and 43 minutes to get past left-handed world No235 Broady. The Scot saved the only two break points he faced in the affair and won 88 per cent of the points on his first serve.
“I hit the ball pretty clean today,” said Murray, who next faces Taipei’s Yen-Hsun Lu.
“I think offensively was good. I felt like I could have moved a little bit better. I didn’t defend as well as usual. But, you know, I served well, too. That was pleasing. Got a lot of free points on my serve.”
No4 seed Stan Wawrinka got through a tricky opener against the much-touted American teenager, Taylor Fritz, 7-6(4) 6-1 6-7(2) 6-4 to set-up a blockbuster second round with the returning Juan Martin Del Potro.
Making his Wimbledon debut and playing just his third grand slam main draw, Fritz made a lasting impression on both the public and his opponent.
“He has a great potential, for sure,” said Wawrinka, who made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon last year. “He has a good game, really talented, strong serve, good backhand. Yeah, for sure is the future of the tennis. But we have to see how he’s going to improve the next few years.”
Del Potro was playing his first grand slam match since the 2014 Australian Open and the Argentine, who missed most of the last two seasons trying to recover from three separate wrist surgeries, passed his opening test with flying colours, beating French veteran Stephane Robert 6-1, 7-5, 6-0.
No15 seed Nick Kyrgios won a fun battle with the 37-year-old Radek Stepanek, who sometimes mentors the young Aussie, in a clash of two incredible shot-makers.
Kyrgios defeated the Czech veteran 6-4, 6-3, 6-7(9), 6-1 and had a brief argument with umpire Mohamed Lahyani, after dropping the third set, for getting a code violation for verbal abuse.
The often foul-mouthed Kyrgios thought the word he said – believed to be “bulls*** – did not warrant a code.
“You’re telling me that every single person who has said that word in this chair has got a code violation?” Kyrgios told Lahyani
“Man, if you’re telling me that that’s just a load of rubbish,” he added later.
After the match, Kyrgios said he and Lahyani were “good” before immediately saying with a laugh “we’re not good, but…”
Kyrgios has another showdown with a supreme shot-maker, Dustin Brown, in the second round.
Rain suspended play on the outside courts before the referee’s office officially canceled all remaining matches at 19:20 BST.
The most talked about player at Wimbledon is not a world No1 or a defending champion.
It’s not Andy Murray or Serena Williams or Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer. It is a player ranked 772 in the world called Marcus Willis.
Willis, a 25-year-old Brit who is playing his first-ever tour-level singles tournament, is on the cover of every local newspaper here in London.
He has emerged as the man of the hour at the All England Club thanks to his back story that is straight out of romantic comedy film, and the seven consecutive matches he has now won from pre-qualifying all the way into the Wimbledon second round.
A tennis coach at Warwick Boat Club who has been playing French and German league matches for the past few months, Willis barely made it into the LTA’s wild card play-offs – called pre-qualifying rounds – before he blasted one opponent after the other with a game he himself describes as “unorthodox”.
He almost quit tennis altogether and was heading to Philadelphia to take up coaching full-time until he met a girl who convinced him to do otherwise.
“I met the girl. She told me not to, so I didn’t. Do what I’m told,” was his concise version of the story.
Willis had been checking out of his hotel every single morning thinking it would be his last day alive in qualifying or the main draw but he keeps exceeding his own expectations.
Not only is he now in the Wimbledon second round, he gets to face Federer – the most successful man to ever play at this tournament.
The fairytale story could not get any better.
“I think it’s one of the best stories in a long time in our sport,” Federer said after his first round win.
“This is the kind of stories we need in our sport. I think it’s a great, great story. I’m very excited to be playing him actually. It’s not something that I get to do very often. I’m looking forward to that.”
Willis has created a frenzy at Wimbledon with the atmosphere during his first round victory over world No54 Ricardas Berankis resembling that of a football stadium on a derby match day.
Loud chants, shoes thrown in the air, epic celebrations… they were scenes that will go down in history.
“Goran (Ivanisevic) just came around and shook my hand. He’s my hero. I’m a bit, yeah,” Willis said giving a funny star-struck face.
Murray’s first tweet in over two months was about Willis.
On Monday Willis was standing on the lawn outside the Players’ restaurant before Tracy Austin stopped to say hello. “You have an amazing story,” the American legend told him. “Make sure you enjoy this.”
As a junior, Willis was ranked as high as 15 in the world junior rankings but then the switch to the men’s circuit did not go as planned. He says he lacked drive and discipline – he was nicknamed Cartman, the character from the animated series South Park due to his physique – until he decided to turn things around three years ago.
“I was a bit of a loser. I was overweight. I don’t know. I just looked myself in the mirror, I said ‘you’re better than this’,” he explains.
“My coach worked very, very hard with me. A lot of main people, my family, my close friends got behind me. It’s key. You can’t do this alone. It’s a very lonely sport. You need people around you.
“Six months to a year ago, I was not very confident, to be honest. Kept getting injured, tore my hamstring twice, hurt my knee earlier this year. Had a bit of a rough phase. I was down, struggling to get out of bed in the morning.”
It’s a stark contrast to the feel-good story he has become.
Many players have followed Willis’ story the past few days and are just as invested in his run here as the public has been.
“Me, personally, with my history, I love a story like that,” said world No85 Dustin Brown, who stunned Rafael Nadal in the second round here last year.
“A guy like that deserves it, playing already six matches coming through. And I hope his body is keeping up and he will be able to have a very good match against Fed.
“He wanted to play at Wimbledon and now he’s going to play on Centre Court against Fed most likely. Yeah, hats off to him. Been a great run so far and hopefully he can have a great match out there.”
Nick Kyrgios, who had his dream moment here at Wimbledon when he beat Nadal to reach the quarter-finals on his tournament debut when he was ranked just 144 in the world in 2014, is equally intrigued by Willis.
“The last time I saw Marcus Willis I was playing a challenger in Nottingham. I didn’t even know he was still playing tennis,” said Kyrgios yesterday.
“I saw him qualify. I always knew he was a talented guy. He’s pretty handsy. I mean, dreams do start here. It happened for me. It’s a good week for him. He’s facing Federer next, but anything can happen, I guess.”
For Willis, he’s hoping this isn’t just a one-off experience. He’s seen the good side of the sport and is hoping to become a regular in it.
“Now I’m here. I’m going to enjoy every minute and try and do it on a regular basis,” said Willis.
The F2Freestylers Youtube Channel joined the legendary Swiss star at the All England Club for a quick masterclass and also tested French Open champion Garbine Muguruza and Scot Andy Murray.
Each of the three players controlled the ball in style, as part of Wimbledon’s #wimbleskills feature.
Which player were you most impressed with off the court?
Share with us your thoughts by commenting below, using #360fans on Twitter or getting in touch via Facebook.