Wimbledon 2021 tennis - 'Andy Murray a great champion still' - Mats Wilander hails Brit after emotional win
Andy Murray got back to winning ways at Wimbledon after an absence of four years and Eurosport's Mats Wilander was left very impressed. The 34-year-old Brit battled past Nikoloz Basilashvili to win through in four sets, 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3, in his comeback match at SW19 against the 24th seed on Centre Court. It could have been a lot easier but he could not convert match points in the third set.
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory after winning his Men's Singles First Round match against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia during Day One of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 28, 2021
The two-time champion had limped off the same court following a quarter-final defeat to Sam Querrey in 2017 - then as the top seed - and had not been back since with hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, so this was a moment of jubilation and relief.
Wilander, speaking to Eurosport, hailed Murray's determination to come through what ended up being a very stern test for the Brit in tough circumstances.
"What a great match, from the first point to the last," Wilander said. "Murray realised that he had to change his game when he needed to, which is so hard to do.
He showed in the fourth set when he had to that he is a great champion still.
"I felt sick to my stomach [when Murray squandered third set lead]. On those big points in the third set he was becoming too passive and you can't do that - you have to go out there and beat your opponent.
"He had to go back to what he was doing at the start of the match and he would have been thinking, 'If I lose this match, am I ever going to play Wimbledon again?' Because that would have been so painful.
"I think he needed a match like this. We need and want him to perform. Murray has to go through these kind of matches. He hates to lose and he realised he had to change in the fourth set and get aggressive again."
Thankfully for Murray, he was able to gather himself after his third-set slump and regain some poise to respond and close out the match. The break for the roof to be closed on Centre Court certainly appeared to help give him that reset.
The atmosphere only got more intense as the fans willed Murray on to victory, and he finally sealed the deal with his fourth match point at nearly 10pm UK time to give him and his camp a great deal of relief. With his comeback win now in the bag, he has nothing to lose in front of his home fans.
The 34-year-old will next take on a qualifier as France's Arthur Rinderknech and Oscar Otte of Germany prepare to battle it out in their opening-round match. A third-round clash with Canada's Denis Shapovalov - the 10th seed - could then await.