ANDY MURRAY has served up some sizeable Wimbledon wins over the years.
His big break against Radek Stepanek in 2005. That devastating dismissal of Andy Roddick in 2006. Battling back from the brink against Richard Gasquet in 2008. Nearly taking the roof off against Stanislas Wawrinka in 2009. Not to mention the daddy of them all, when he defeated Novak Djokovic on July 7 last year to consign 77 years of All England Club history to the dustbin.
But in terms of sheer scale, what the Scot achieved on Court No.1 yesterday had the measure of all of them. At one hour 24 minutes, his 6-1, 6-1, 6-0 victory against Blaz Rola, the World No.92 from Slovenia, was both his quickest success at SW19 and his widest margin of victory, outstripping a 2012 win against Nikolay Davydenko in which he surrendered all of six games. The Scot's innings was over so quickly that Geoff Boycott, a visitor to the All England club yesterday, must have been horrified.
Poor Rola was steamrollered. The 23-year-old from the Slovenian town of Ptuj, an NCAA champion in singles and doubles as he served a tennis scholarship at Ohio State, had gone into the match speaking of soiling himself at the prospect of playing the defending champion on one of the great courts of world tennis. This was a daunting task all right for a man who has won just five tour-level matches in his entire life, only one of which was on grass.
Ultimately the occasion did prove too big for the big man, but that was mainly because he encountered Murray near the height of his powers. The 6ft 4in left-hander was kept at arms length.
All the contenders for this crown - home based or not - must endure playing on Wimbledon's secondary arena at some point during the tournament. This custom allows the All England Club to claim even-handedness in scheduling, not to mention keeping prices high for hospitality and corporate sponsorship on Court No.1, a venue which will have a new roof by 2019.
Unlike some big names, the 27-year-old from Dunblane has never seemed overly concerned about this, even if the difference between the way the two courts play has only increased since a roof was inserted above Centre. And at least getting the visit out the way early, in decent weather, means he should be spared the prospect of rain delays down the line. For the record, the Scot has only ever lost one match here, against Jurgen Melzer in a Davis Cup tie against Austria.
The Duchess of Cornwall had clearly decided it was the place to be, dashing over from her seat in the Royal Box just in time to give her seal of approval. But if she was looking for drama, this was a big let down. From his opening service game of the match, where unforced Rola errors conspired to allow Murray to break to 15, it was clear this was to be a giant mismatch.
After a sweltering start to the tournament, on-court conditions were cool and windy, exactly the environment in which the Scot tends to thrive. His Slovenian opponent, defeated by Britain's No.3 player James Ward in the past month at Roland Garros and Queen's Club, had to weather a storm just to get a game on the board at 2-1.
Yet considering how one-sided this was, Rola was capable of making occasional inroads into the Scot's serve. He carved out a break point in each set of the match, only to find the No.3 seed reserving his best play for the biggest moments.
On such occasions a big thudding serve tended to come to Murray's rescue, a delivery reliable enough that by the third set, he was getting 72% of his first serves in the court.
One rare crisis for the Scot was the wardrobe malfunction which caused a spare tennis ball to drop from his pocket at mid-point during a rare stressful service game, something of a recurring Murray theme from last year's Wimbledon and this year's Roland Garros. "It's happened a few times to me over the years," the Scot said. "Adidas have tried to make some changes but it keeps happening. I don't know why it is.
"They change regularly - they are not the same shorts all of the time. I don't know why it happens. I don't know if I am not putting the ball deep enough into the pocket - that is possible. I haven't played many matches where it has happened more than once."
In any case, soon Rola was receiving such sympathy from the crowd that he was in danger of finding it all a tad patronising. Applause rippled around Court No.1 when a rare wasteful game from Murray avoided a second set bagel, but there was no such luck in the third, by which time the Slovene was utterly bereft of effective tactics. Attack the net and the Scots would pass him, stay back and eventually be confounded by some angle or other off the Murray racquet.
The final game displayed that precious variety to the Scot's game - drop shots, lob volleys, disguised passes - to the full, the suggestion being that the Mauresmo era may place more of an emphasis on instinct rather than percentages.
"Obviously that was something that Amelie did very well," Murray said. "She serve and volleyed more than me and came forward a little bit more. I'm sure that's something that I'll try to work on with her."
Murray marked his moment of victory by throwing his sweatbands to the crowd, one whistling narrowly past the ear of the Duchess. He had hardly been on court long enough to need them.