Andy Murray given doubles reality check for Wimbledon after one-sided defeat at Eastbourne

Charlie Eccleshare
The Telegraph
Andy Murray and Marcelo Melo were comprehensively beaten on Tuesday - Getty Images Europe
Andy Murray and Marcelo Melo were comprehensively beaten on Tuesday - Getty Images Europe

Maybe this doubles lark isn't quite so easy after all.

Following his stirring title win at the Fever-Tree Championships last week, Andy Murray and his scratch partner Marcelo Melo were given an Eastbourne exhibition on Tuesday by the top seeds Robert Farah and Juan Sebastian Cabal

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In a Nature Valley International first-round match that lasted just 64 minutes, Murray and Melo went down by a comprehensive 6-2, 6-4 scoreline. With last week's partner Feliciano Lopez absent, the defeat was a reality check for British fans, who could have been forgiven for forgetting that until last week Murray had not played since a second hip operation in January. 

On the face of it, this was a bit of a horror show for Murray, who lost three of his four service games against a pair he and Lopez had beaten at Queen's last week. But as even the casual doubles player knows, a break of serve can often be as much about the player at the net as the one serving. This was certainly the case here, with the 6ft 8in Melo - a former Wimbledon champion - appearing to suffer from a case of the yips as he butchered a series of easy volleys.

Melo eventually rediscovered his composure, but he needn't hold his breath waiting for a return invitation from Murray.

Instead Murray's attention will turn to Wimbledon, where he will partner France's four-time major winner Pierre-Hugues Herbert and anticipates being in fine physical condition. "I had a really, really good week last week and pulled up fine," he said after this defeat. "I was not in any pain or discomfort. That's obviously really, really nice for me.

<span>Murray and his new partner shared little chemistry</span> <span>Credit: Getty images </span>
Murray and his new partner shared little chemistry Credit: Getty images

"I mean, obviously you always want to play really well, but so long as I'm fit and healthy and I can stay on the practice court and stay on the match court, I'll improve all the time. That's how it normally works. Hopefully that will be the case."

Murray said he had not yet decided on his plans for the next few days, but that he would head to Wimbledon to try and get a feel for the conditions at SW19. "It's more I get to go and get used to the conditions and stuff at Wimbledon and the courts again," he said. "They are different. I know they're grass, but they are different each week.

"The doubles starts on Wednesday or Thursday there. I'll probably get a good week's practice in beforehand, and I'll be able to do some physical work as well, and work on the bits of my game that I need to get better."

As well as working on his own game, it was clear from the painful lack of chemistry Murray enjoyed with Melo that he will need to have some proper time practising with Herbert ahead of Wimbledon. 

How much time the pair get together will depend on Herbert's progress in the singles event at Eastbourne, where he will compete in the second round against Murray's fellow Brit Dan Evans on Wednesday.

Murray revealed that he and Herbert have at least been messaging one another, and decided that at Wimbledon the former will return from the deuce court - a departure from his position on the ad side with Lopez, Melo and going further back, his brother Jamie. 

<span>Murray will need some time to practice with his Wimbledon partner&nbsp;Pierre-Hugues Herbert</span> <span>Credit: Getty images </span>
Murray will need some time to practice with his Wimbledon partner Pierre-Hugues Herbert Credit: Getty images

As for his chances of repeating that Queen's victory, Murray said "I don't have high expectations at all". However when prodded by a question about whether the world's leading doubles teams would be taking him seriously, he said: "I don't care whether they take me seriously as a doubles player or not, to be honest. I'll give them good matches, I'm sure, when I play against them."

Murray was also asked about his involvement in the Wimbledon mixed doubles event, which has been a source of constant speculation since he revealed last week that he had been turned down by world No 1 Ashleigh Barty and Kristina Mladenovic.

Murray also said that he would be keen to play with either Venus or Serena Williams, and added that he would be making a decision on Wednesday. Murray then revealed that he had briefly doubted whether to play the mixed event, but expected that he would most likely opt to enter. 

"I have spoken to a couple of the guys who don't play mixed doubles all the time, and they were just saying if you get a couple of bad days of rain, you end up having to play best-of-five doubles followed by a mixed doubles, and that can happen a couple of days in a row," Murray said.

"I need to be certain that I'm ready to do that. I think I should be okay. Ideally the weather will be good and you don't have to worry too much about that, but we'll see."

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