Kyle Edmund says it is “a great honour” to return to Centre Court for the fourth time when Wimbledon starts day, and the most glorious setting in tennis might be just what the British No 1 needs to kick-start his fitful summer.
He will need to be at his sharpest against Jaume Munar, a fiery 22-year-old Mallorcan they call Jimbo (after Connors), who is ranked 88 in the world and whose inspiration is his island’s favourite son, Rafael Nadal. “I am very far away from being world No 1,” Munar told Tennishead.com when it was suggested Nadal and Carlos Moyá had set the bar high for Mallorcans. “Rafa and Carlos were big, big players and it’s so difficult to get to that level. But, of course, I’m working as hard as I can to get there.”
The draw has kept Munar and Nadal apart but he could play a compatriot in Fernando Verdasco if he beats Edmund, who is 57 places above him in the rankings and has had intermittent knee pain since late last year.
“It was a very nice surprise when I saw [the order of play],” Edmund said. “A great honour. Always exciting to be back at Wimbledon and playing on Centre Court.”
Having gone out early at the French Open last month, he arrives from Eastbourne with confidence restored after a few good performances, and said: “Three matches inside a week is not something I’ve had for a while. I came through some pressure situations, learned from my loss [in the semi-finals to the eventual champion, Taylor Fritz].”
He takes comfort from the fact his last appearance on the game’s main stage was against Novak Djokovic in last year’s second round, when he took a set off the world No 1 and eventual champion. “It was probably the best match I played at Wimbledon, in terms of level,” he recalled. “It was the best sort of atmosphere and match I’ve been involved in at Wimbledon, for sure.”
Andy Murray, meanwhile, seems content on a different level, preparing for his return to Wimbledon after two years away, in doubles later in the week. But he revealed he has had the odd problem lately – with airport security. “I have taken two flights since my hip operation [in January],” he said. “It went off both times. I don’t really remember it’s in there now. I went through, it went off and I was like: ‘Oh, for God’s sake.’ And then when I got through, my wife was like: ‘You know that’s because of your hip.’ I was like: ‘Oh, of course.’”
While he and Pierre-Hugues Herbert prepare for their match against the Romanian Marius Copil and France’s Ugo Humbert, Serena Williams’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, breathed life into the possibility of her playing mixed doubles with Murray.
“As a coach, I would say that’s a great move,” he said. “First of all, she loves to play doubles. Second, to play doubles with Andy can bring only positives to her. Andy is great, she likes him. He’s an incredible player, he is super-positive. Why not? They have to just both decide and then … let’s do it!”
Murray is yet to decide if and with whom he’ll play, but said, smiling: “She’s arguably the best player ever. It would be a pretty solid partnership.”
Meanwhile, James Ward, almost the forgotten man of British tennis because of a wretched run with injuries, sounded more upbeat than in recent months when looking forward to his match against Nikoloz Basilashvili on Tuesday – despite having knee surgery to save his career. “I’ve really picked my game up and beaten some good players the past few weeks. I’m looking forward to it.”
Ward, 32, who reached the third round here in 2015 and lost in qualifying last year, is ranked 205 and is in the draw on a wildcard. The likable Londoner said of the surgery he needed to fix his patella: “I wasn’t able to move and bend into my right leg. I decided to have the operation.
“On the other side, you lose your ranking, you go down to 900 or 1,000 in the world and you have to start playing qualifiers and play even more matches than you want to. It wasn’t as if I had a new knee. They went inside and cleaned it up a little bit. It’s still not amazing. It’s not ideal.”