Andy Murray back to winning ways at Wimbledon as Scot and Herbert secure victory

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The players had marched onto No. 1 Court at around 6.30pm and the game got underway at 6.44pm.

However, it was not until midway through the second set when that the familiar guttural Dunblane roar finally rang out around SW19.

That is what marked the point when Andy Murray came back.

For the first dozen games or so it could have been anybody under that plain white cap.

Overly-delighted squeals met Murray’s first simple put-away volley on the opening point but these were tentative early dabs from the racket of a man who last wielded it in anger here for the 2017 singles quarter-final.

The first Murray service game was not so much lost as handed over in a flurry of disturbingly tepid 89mph second serves which were gobbled up gratefully by the uncompromising Marius Copil and Ugo Humbert, two players determined to represent proudly the union of specialist doubles players.

Indeed few could argue when, despite an uncharacteristic series of broken serves in the midst of it, the pair from Romania and France were not worthy winners of the opening set.

But as the sun dropped below the stacked new roof in its withdrawn state, the cap came off and a more familiar version of the two-time Wimbledon singles champion emerged.

That shout of triumph came after an early break had been effected in the second set and, more importantly, cemented with a hard-fought hold.

This was the man they had packed No. 1 Court to cheer in a slot that would otherwise been played out in front of a few dozen hardy souls huddling from the gathering chill while the local tube stations cleared.

The hip may have needed resurfacing but it was clear there is nothing artificial about the affection in which the 31-year-old is held in these parts.

With Murray finding his feet, the second set scampered away from Copil and Humbert to be wrapped up comfortably.

Then a vital break in the third set came when Murray ended the rally of the match by thumping the ball uncompromisingly straight into the body of Humbert.

The apology was sincere but could not hide the re-awoken competitive streak. Pierre-Hugues Herbert had been steady throughout; Murray was getting his touch back.

Humbert’s impressive 141 serve was flicked back across court for a return winner and when the third set had safely been secured, it was time for the roof to go on.

Whether it trapped the magic or actually amplified it, the crowd were in for a treat.

Fast hands held sway over fast serves and increasingly points were played out with a crescendo coo of disbelief.

Never was it louder than when Herbert found a ludicrously tight angle with which to break in the first game of the fourth set.

Exhibition stuff, maybe, but there was a serious contest to be won.

Cries of “Come on Andy!” bounced off the canopy and while the roof may be new, the acoustic was a familiar one.

Increasingly familiar, too, was the tennis. A winning Murray return pulled from nowhere. Those unreturnable serves in the corners – not especially fast, just hit with niggling accuracy.

Herbert, of course, played his part with elegant passes down the tramlines as slowly the Murray and Herbert score ticked up and up. Copil and Humbert’s did not move.

One final Murray volley put away into the tramlines and it was broad grins and handshakes at the net.

The former world no. 1 may have some way to go yet before he can stand in gladiatorial combat on his own against the best in the world.

But once again he is a winner at Wimbledon and for now his concerned followers are just thankful for that.

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