Andy Murray WINS on his Wimbledon return as he defeats Nikoloz Basilashvili

You did not really expect Andy Murray to go gentle into that good night did you?

The 34 year-old Scot with the metal hip continues to rage against the dying light, a man who wants to take his leave at the time of his own choosing.

That time does not appear to be now, and on Tuesday evening he was back at his spiritual home to knock out world number 28 Nikoloz Basilashvili in one of the most extraordinary performances of his career. 

Andy Murray defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili to progress to the second round of Wimbledon

Andy Murray defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili to progress to the second round of Wimbledon

Andy Murray defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili to progress to the second round of Wimbledon

The Brit produced a remarkable performance to come through an unprecedented crisis

The Brit produced a remarkable performance to come through an unprecedented crisis

The Brit produced a remarkable performance to come through an unprecedented crisis

‘It’s amazing to be back out here playing again on Centre Court. Such a brilliant atmosphere, it’s something I have really missed,’ Murray said.

‘I did well to win the foruth set because mentally it wasn’t easy going back to the locker room after the third. I had a shower and went to the toilet, just a number one. I was really disappointed I had lost the third. I served better in the fourth set and turned it back round, remembered what I’d been doing well.

‘It’s been so frustrating not to get on the court, I’ve had so little momentum these last two years. I keep getting asked if this is my last Wimbledon – no, I want to play. I can still play at this level, he’s ranked 28 in the world and I beat him.’

Murray came through an unprecedented crisis to win 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-3 .He was left awaiting one of two qualifiers, German Oscar Otte or Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech.

It had been so easy to forget all that Murray has gone through in these past four years, that he is ranked 118 in the world and the owner of a metal hip.

That had all been made to seem like some bizarre fiction as he ploughed his way to 6-4 6-3 5-0 up against a player ranked 90 places above him in the world.

Then came the shuddering reminder, not just in the lack of energy from someone who has lost the muscle memory of playing best of five set matches. It was also evident in the loss of nerve that accompanied his three attempts to serve out the match.

It was not, it turned out, the Murray of old that the Centre Court had convinced itself was being reborn in front of the assembly.

This was Murray 2.0, whose service percentage began to drop like a stone as the winning post came into view, the body once again becoming increasingly unco-operative. 

Murray and Basilashvili shake hands at the end of an extraordinary three-and-a-half hour battle

Murray and Basilashvili shake hands at the end of an extraordinary three-and-a-half hour battle

Murray and Basilashvili shake hands at the end of an extraordinary three-and-a-half hour battle

There were some hairy moments in the final set as Murray squandered his 5-0 lead to lose it

There were some hairy moments in the final set as Murray squandered his 5-0 lead to lose it

There were some hairy moments in the final set as Murray squandered his 5-0 lead to lose it

The 34-year-old cut a frustrated figure after being forced to go into a fourth set

The 34-year-old cut a frustrated figure after being forced to go into a fourth set

The 34-year-old cut a frustrated figure after being forced to go into a fourth set

It also had a lot to do with his opponent, who suddenly cut down on the errors that had begun to come so thick and fast it looked like he had checked out of the tournament.

Three times Murray served for the match, on each occasion with more desperation. He has had some nerve shredders before here, but had always plundered his reservoirs of self-belief to get through.

He had two match points at 5-4, both against his opponent’s serve. The first was missed when he put a backhand in the net, the second lost to an ace.

When he was broken for a fourth time to lose the set, the emotionless Georgian now rampant and firing winners from the baseline, they closed the roof and took the players off, coming back out at 9pm under the lights.

This was a challenge the like of which Murray had never seen before, which is saying something.

Remarkably, he came back out and broke in the first game to love, having stewed in the locker room that he knows so well. That was immediately wiped out, only for Basilashvili’s errant ways to return and the break to be restored.

The undulations were sharp, neither player seemed able to make up his mind which way they wanted this to go.

Murray had a point to take a double break for 4-1, not that this would have brought with it any certainties.

The sight of Murray walking out earlier for the primetime slot had bestowed a semblance of order to an occasionally shambolic day on Centre Court, by its pristine standards.

The world No 28 rallied back to take the third set and had the momentum going into the fourth

The world No 28 rallied back to take the third set and had the momentum going into the fourth

The world No 28 rallied back to take the third set and had the momentum going into the fourth

But a delay to shut the roof benefited Murray as he managed to regroup to finish the job off

But a delay to shut the roof benefited Murray as he managed to regroup to finish the job off

But a delay to shut the roof benefited Murray as he managed to regroup to finish the job off

The crowd was closer packed together than expected, with the rear rows empty, giving the appearance of it being fuller than it actually was. The new 25-minute shot clock – designed to stop timewasting between points – had been malfunctioning.

A trial of having 35 minutes between matches had seen line judges come out early and been sitting there stranded, nobody seeming to know the new rule.

But now here was the return of the double champion after four years of almost solid aggravation, and enough physical setbacks that would have broken lesser men.

The half-full arena roared their appreciation for his return, as a solo artist, for the first time since limping off after losing in five sets to Sam Querrey in the 2017 quarter final. It was too empty for it quite to be thunderous.

On his last singles visit Murray played someone who was the 24th seed that year, the same as his opponent on Monday.

The Georgian is the kind of player who Murray, in his full pomp, would cut down with some ease, slowly vitiating his game through a combination of angles and drives, generally managing to give him the kind of shot he least wants. The good news: he can still do that.

Although the Scot was mixing his game up to increasingly wrongfoot his opponent there was little in it until 4-5, when he edged towards his first break, and set, point.

What followed was something plucked straight from 2016, the year of Peak Murray. Basilashvili thumped down a first serve into his wheelhouse and the twice champion returned it with interest, drawing a backhand error. 

Murray salutes the rapturous home support after sealing his place in the second round

Murray salutes the rapturous home support after sealing his place in the second round

Murray salutes the rapturous home support after sealing his place in the second round

The Scotman's wife was in the crowd to cheer her husband on to his first win back at SW19

The Scotman's wife was in the crowd to cheer her husband on to his first win back at SW19

The Scotman’s wife was in the crowd to cheer her husband on to his first win back at SW19

The middle of the second set saw the first serious test of wills, a mental tug of war during which Murray could easily have gone away. 

The dead-eyed, bearded Georgian forced a break point in the fifth and seventh games. Murray let out a cry as he saved both of them, the second one breaking Basilashvili’s resolve.

His groundstrokes, which come off his racket like a gun crack, were beginning to go haywire, and when Murray dug out a ball from the baseline the reply went into the net.

The advantage was compounded in the first game of the third and, given the way he had been serving, it just needed him to maintain that to see the finish line ahead.

Fellow Scottish sporting knight of the realm, Sir Jackie Stewart, looked on approvingly from the front row of the Royal Box as he continued to break down his opponent.

Basilashvili treats the net as a total exclusion zone, so that was precisely where he kept being dragged with dropshots whose range had improved as the match went on.

And then, at 5-0, came the totally unforeseen turnaround.

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