Roger Federer backs Andy Murray for long run on Wimbledon return

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 (Getty Images for LTA)
(Getty Images for LTA)

Roger Federer has backed Andy Murray to have a long run at Wimbledon as he returns to the singles draw for the first time in four years.

Murray faces a potentially tricky opening tie in the third match on Centre Court on Monday against No24 Nikoloz Basilashvili.

In the build-up to that match, Murray has been practising against Federer, the pair both struggling with their own injury issues in the lead-up to Wimbledon – Federer following double knee surgery and Murray with various knock-on effects from his own hip operation.

But Federer, himself bidding for a ninth Wimbledon title on the eve of his 40th birthday, gave his backing to his fellow former world No1.

“I thought he looked good,” he said reflecting on his practice. “You see how comfortable he is on the grass. Clearly, it’s just practice, we’re trying things. But I hope he can go deep here, have a nice run. Same for me.

“I think we always back our chances on this surface. But it was great spending time on the court again with Andy. It’s nice to see him out there.”

For Murray, in particular, his return to Centre Court is something of a step into the unknown. He has played just two competitive singles matches in three months: an opening-round win over a fairly lacklustre Benoit Paire at Queen’s and then looked rusty against eventual champion Matteo Berrettini in the subsequent round.

Practice for both Queen’s and Wimbledon has been reduced as part of a damage-limitation exercise on his body.

And Murray was hardly putting out a rallying cry on the eve of his match. “Preparations have been fine,” he said. “I’ve had some good practice with top players. I would like to have practised more. But I’m sort of trying to manage the physical side as well, which is very important. I want to go into Wimbledon feeling as fresh and as comfortable as possible when I get out there.”

Murray will play in front of 50 per cent capacity crowds as Wimbledon acts as a guinea pig in the Government’s event research programme.

And Murray said: “I’m delighted that I can be back competing here again. I’m most excited about being in front of a big crowd and the fans and everything. That’s really something I’ve missed a lot. It feels like we’re getting closer to more normality.”

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