- Associated Press - Monday, June 20, 2011

WIMBLEDON, ENGLAND (AP) - One message read: “Believe in yourself and never give up.” Another simply said: “Make history.”

The words of support from Facebook fans printed on Andy Murray’s racket bag looked as if they might be having the opposite effect Monday when he dropped his first set at Wimbledon.

Then, as if flicking on a switch, Murray reeled off 15 consecutive games for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 victory over Daniel Gimeno-Traver to reach the second round.

Gimeno-Traver began the match confidently under the roof at Centre Court and hit some particularly good forehands, but by the end, the 56th-ranked Spaniard looked every bit the player who has lost in the first round at eight of his 12 Grand Slam tournaments.

And Murray’s unusual bag _ the brainchild of his racket sponsor _ didn’t end up being consigned to history. Murray said it might even turn out to be a source of inspiration in the future.

“I didn’t today, but a lot of players in the past have done it with having notes in their bag, and some have had things written on like their rackets or something, on the back of their hand,” he said. “Players have done those sort of things a lot in the past. And, yeah, something I could do if I felt like I needed it.”

Murray is once again carrying the hopes of the home nation, desperate for the first British male champion at Wimbledon since 1936.

The 24-year-old from Scotland has reached the semifinals the past two years, and after a poor run of form following a loss to Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open final, he has raised hopes again by making the French Open semifinals and winning the grass-court title at Queen’s Club last week.

A rare day off in the lead-up to Wimbledon was interrupted by a 7 a.m. call from drug testers on Thursday. It was the third time he had been called upon for a sample in less than a month since losing at Roland Garros.

“It’s a lot of testing, but just part of our job, unfortunately,” Murray said. “It’s just very intrusive when you get someone sort of in your house in the morning. When you’re going to the toilet and they’re staring at you, it’s a bit … you know, in your own home, it’s just quite strange feeling.”

The only negative for Murray about his match Monday was that not all of his fans inside the All England Club got to see him play. With heavy rain falling, organizers switched off the big outdoor TV screen for “health and safety reasons.”

The tournament said it was to prevent spectators from slipping on the grass.


TURNAROUND: After blowing a big lead and losing at the French Open, 19-year-old Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., made sure she didn’t make the same mistake at Wimbledon.

McHale reached the second round at the All England Club for the first time _ and at any Grand Slam tournament for only the second time _ by eliminating 28th-seeded Ekaterina Makarova of Russia 2-6, 6-1, 8-6 Monday.

Story Continues →