Andy Murray to face Tomas Machac in Wimbledon opener if he is fit in time

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 on Tuesday 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 always be a tough task in the third round.

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, recovering from knee surgery at the start of June, is in the other half with Alexander Zverev. Djokovic on Friday declared himself “pain free” after overcoming Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-4 in an exhibition match at Hurlingham.

Asked about his fitness afterwards, the 37-year-old said: “I can tell you that I enjoyed myself really, really much today. I can tell you that pain-free tennis is the best tennis. I was pain-free and I’m really glad. It was a great test obviously against one of the best players in the world.

“I’ve played a couple of practice sets but I really wanted to test myself. The test was very successful so I’m obviously really glad. It’s been an intense three weeks after surgery, spending a lot of hours rehabbing.

“I kind of always wanted to give myself a chance to be in London. I think my surgeon is here. He’s the MVP for sure the last three weeks. I’m trying to take it day by day and see how far it goes.”

At least Murray was correctly placed in the draw. When Beatriz Haddad Maia’s name was pulled out, there were a few 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.

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Iga Swiatek, the No 1 seed, has won the French and US Opens but not Wimbledon. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

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.

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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