Hello. With Marcus Willis being lined up to become the new England manager, it seems that the hopes of a British winner at Wimbledon rest once again on Andy Murray’s broad shoulders. That the world No2 faces a British player for the first time at Wimbledon won’t make an iota of difference to the way he approaches his first-round match this afternoon. After an unnecessarily dramatic start to the French Open, Ivan Lendl has warned Murray that he he can’t afford to begin dozily here if he’s going to beat Novak Djokovic in the final. Djokovic was inspired and clinical in three sets against James Ward yesterday, while Roger Federer also did what was required against the sprightly Guido Pella later in the day. Murray needs to be similarly ruthless against Liam Broady, the 22-year-old world No235. They’re up second on Centre Court.
First up, however, is Serena Williams, who ought to dispense with Switzerland’s Amra Sadikovic. The world No1 is still chasing Steffi Graf’s record of 22 grand slams, having suffered surprise defeats in New York, Melbourne and Paris, and she probably won’t have been happy to hear that Garbine Muguruza, the world No2 and her conqueror in the French Open final, edged out the awkward Camila Giorgi in three sets.
Serena is on the tougher side of the draw. Agneiszka Radwanska, the world No3, takes on Kateryna Kozlova on Court 2, Petra Kvitova, champion here in 2011 and 2014, faces Sorana Cirstea, Timea Bacsinszky meets Luksika Kumkhum, Belinda Bencic plays Tsvetana Pironkova and the final match on Centre is certainly intriguing, Caroline Wozniacki back from injury and drawn against the 13th seed, Svetlana Kuznetsova. Keep an eye out, too, for Dominika Cibulkova, who was in excellent form as she won the Aegon International on Saturday; the Slovakian faces Mirjana Lucic-Baroni first on Court 18.
And then there’s Johanna Konta, the British No1. She also did well in Eastbourne last week, reaching the semi-finals, and she’s the first British woman to be seeded here since Jo Durie in 1984. Second up on Court 1, the 16th seed is likely to have her work cut out against the world No36, Monica Puig, however. It’s one of the hardest draws she could have had. Puig has reached two semi-finals on grass this year. Konta will have to be at her best. As will Heather Watson, the British No2, who faces Annika Beck, the world No43. Watson has not impressed recently. The other British interest in the women’s draw is Tara Moore, who faces Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium.
There are potential storylines everywhere. How about the return of Juan Martin del Potro, the man who pushed Djokovic so hard in an incredible semi-final three years ago? Fit again, the unseeded Argentinian – the US Open champion in 2009, don’t forget – meets Stephane Robert of France on Court 12. If he wins, he could meet Stan Wawrinka in the second round. Your mouth is salivating already. But Wawrinka, the fourth seed, will have to be wary of Taylor Fritz, the rising young American, on Court 1.
Fritz isn’t the only young pretender hoping to cause a stir today. Nick Kyrgios, the Aussie firebrand, plays the wily old Czech, Radek Stepanek, who gave Murray a fright in Paris, on Court 2. That’s followed by Bernard Tomic against Fernando Verdasco, while eighth seed Dominic Thiem faces Florian Mayer and 24th seed Alex Zverev will hope to show what he’s made of against Paul-Henri Mathieu.
If all that’s not enough, you greedy people, British No2 Aljaz Bedene is hopeful of causing an upset against the seventh seed, Richard Gasquet, on Court 3.
The only problem is the weather. We’re expecting rain at around 4pm. Bah.
Play begins at: 11.30am.