Andy Murray to face Machac in Wimbledon first round if he wins fitness race

Estimated read time 3 min read

As the draw for the men’s singles at Wimbledon unfolded at the All England Club on Friday morning, Andy Murray might have allowed himself a rueful smile. ­Battling to be fit after back surgery for what would be the last Wimbledon of his career before he retires later this summer, the two-time champion was drawn to play Tomas Machac in round one, the man he was playing when he ruptured ankle ligaments in Miami earlier this year.

Injuries have dogged Murray ever since he returned from career-saving hip surgery in 2019, emerging with a metal hip and defying medical expectations by even playing at the top level. Providing he is fit to play at Wimbledon, and it is still a big if, Murray will renew acquaintance with Machac, a talented Czech, who has improved his ranking from No 60 when the pair met in March to No 38.

The ankle injury was particularly disappointing for Murray, who had just won back-to-back matches for the first time this year. Ever since, he has been struggling to regain full ­fitness and, last week, the 37-year-old had surgery to remove a cyst on his back. Ordinarily, he might have considered today’s draw favourable – his likely second-round opponent, the No 26 seed, Francisco Cerúndolo, has won just one match at Wimbledon – although Hubert Hurkacz, the No 7 seed, would have presented Murray with problems in the third round even if he was 100%.

Murray will doubtless have been glad to avoid a first-round encounter with any of the top names. The world No 1, Jannik Sinner, and the defending champion, Carlos Alcaraz, were placed in the same half, while Novak Djokovic, also fighting to be fit after knee surgery at the start of June, is in the other half with Alexander Zverev.

At least Murray was correctly placed in the draw. When Beatriz Haddad Maia’s name was pulled out, there were a few audible gasps as Mirra Andreeva was put in her place. The same thing happened in the men’s draw as Ben Shelton and Ugo Humbert were mixed up, not quite the debut the new tournament referee, Denise Parnell, would have hoped for.

Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon 2023View image in fullscreen

The draw also produced some tasty encounters for many of the British players involved, not least Jack Draper and Cam Norrie, who could play each other in the second round. Draper, seeded at Wimbledon for the first time at No 28, would be favourite against Norrie, a former semi-finalist who has been out of sorts. Zverev, the No 4 seed, is likely to be waiting in round three. Katie Boulter, also seeded for the first time at No 32, could take on fellow Briton Harriet Dart in round two.

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Fran Jones faces Petra Martic, with the prospect of a second-round clash with the top seed, Iga Swiatek, the ­carrot for the winner. Swiatek, though, must first beat former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin and has the defending champion, Marketa ­Vondrousova, and Danielle Collins in her quarter.


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