Murray warms to virtues of serve and volley

London: Andy Murray`s first-round win on Tuesday was pretty much routine, but there were signs Britain`s only hope of success at Wimbledon was finally starting to take a shine to the oldest grasscourt ploy of all -- serve and volley.

For many years the finest protagonists at dashing into the net after a big serve enjoyed huge success on the slick courts in south west London but recently they have been a dying breed.

It is a telling point that on day two of the world`s biggest grass tournament the most worn areas of the court surfaces are behind the baseline while the service `T` where many of the best volleyers stop before punching away their winners appears relatively unscathed.

The 23-year-old Scot, one of the most gifted volleyers on the tour yet strangely reluctant to use the weapon in the past, made an encouraging number of forays to the net when demolishing Czech Jan Hajek for a 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

It was not an unqualified success with just over half his advances scoring winners but last year`s semi-finalist is keenly aware that it is a part of his game that could prove key if he is to end a 70-year drought for British men here.

"I didn`t get to the net too often but when I did I felt good," he told reporters.

"If you pick the right moments to go into the net on grass you get a lot of pretty easy volleys. I have practised a lot the last five or six days, just hitting a lot of volleys.”

"They`re the ones you need to make sure you are focused on so you`re able to shorten the points, especially against the best players you need to be able to do that."

It was not all plain sailing for the fourth seed who was in the unfamiliar surrounds of Court One having played all his matches here since 2005 on Centre.

He let slip an early break of serve to trail 2-1 in the opener but a crunching backhand return that secured the break back in game eight accompanied by an unrestrained roar of `Come on` from the Scot brought the crowd to life.

From then on Hajek`s game imploded, losing seven straight games at the end of the first and start of the second set, and even a worrying tumble at 4-1 in the third from Murray failed to derail his surge to victory.

Next up for Murray is Finnish battler Jarkko Nieminen, a player now ranked 67 who once led Tim Henman two sets to one here before going down in five, and the Scot is wary of dropping his guard against such an experienced campaigner.

"He doesn`t hand matches to you. You have to go out and beat him. He`s not going to make many mistakes."

Bureau Report

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