Andy Murray has disputed claims that the underarm serve is disrespectful following his first-round win over James Duckworth at Wimbledon.
Murray, who overcame the Australian 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-4, dropped an underarm serve during the third set. He won the point.
It is a tactic that has also been deployed by Nick Kyrgios and has historically not gone down well with the crowd, but the 35-year-old cannot understand why there is such strong opposition against it.
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“I personally have no issue with players using it. I never have,” Murray said in his post-match press conference.
“Certainly, more and more players have started returning from further behind the baseline now to give themselves an advantage to return. The underarm serve is a way of saying, 'If you’re going to step back there, then I’m going to possibly throw that in'.
“I don’t know why people have ever found it potentially disrespectful or… I don’t know. I’ve never understood that. It’s a legitimate way of serving. I would never use an underarm serve if someone was standing on the baseline because I think it’s a stupid idea because they’re going to track it down and it’s easy to get.
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“If they stand four or five meters behind the baseline, then why would you not do that to try to bring them forward if they’re not comfortable returning there? Tactically it’s a smart play. No one says it’s disrespectful for someone to return from six meters, whatever, five meters behind the baseline to try to get an advantage.
“So, I used it not to be disrespectful to him but to say, 'If you’re going to step further back to return the serve to give yourself more time, then I’m going to exploit that'.”
Murray then explained in more detail why he chose this method of serving against Duckworth in particular.
“He changed his return position, that’s why I did it," he continued.
“He was standing very close to return. He was struggling a little bit on the first-serve return, so he stepped probably two meters further back. As soon as I saw him step further back, I threw the underarm serve in.”
The two-time Wimbledon champion now turns his attention to a second-round clash against John Isner on Wednesday.
Isner battled past the Frenchman Enzo Coucaud on Monday in a five-set epic, with the first two being decided via tie-breaks.
Murray has won all eight of his previous encounters with the American. The pair most recently met at the 2016 ATP Masters 1000 event in Paris.
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Watch daily highlights from Wimbledon at 10pm on Eurosport 2 and discovery+ from June 27, as well as the two singles finals live on July 9 and 10.
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