Nikolay Davydenko's game was left scattered like bits of debris on Centre Court after Andy Murray hit him with an irresistible force. The 25-year-old Scot's 6-1, 6-1, 6-4 victory was completed so quickly that the Russian was terminated with extreme prejudice. Never has Davydenko's self-proclaimed nickname seemed so inappropriate.
He was sliced and diced to perdition by Murray, who was so far ahead in every department that the handshake at the net could have been made an hour earlier as a token of an honourable surrender. The match lasted for one hour and 35 minutes. It was over as a contest when Murray broke in the first game of the first set.
The first serve was launched at 5.55pm and it was not until 6.30 that Davydenko offered a challenge. Unfortunately for the world No.47, this came in the form of a plea to Hawk Eye. This proved unsuccessful. Just about everything was to prove so for the Russian.
Murray was merciless. Davydenko was a victim without protection. After the Russian rescued a break point in the first game of the match by producing an ace, the Scot rattled off nine games. It was smooth, almost entirely untroubled. As a gentle wind blew around Centre Court, Murray was winning in a breeze.
The world No.4 lost two exhibition matches at Boodles last week. He produced an exhibition last night in a grand slam tournament.
The display was testimony to first-hand evidence and was a realisation of the fears of the Russian. It was also predictable for anyone who has watched Murray at Wimbledon.
The testimony came from Jamie Baker, the Scot who has broken into the top 200 of the world rankings. He practised with his friend in the lead-up to the tournament and said bluntly that he had never seen his mate hit the ball so well. Murray last night proved that Baker is a decent judge of form.
The fears from Davydenko concerned Muray's ability to produce the slice at will. The Scot not only recovered from awkward positions but confounded his opponent by use of a diabolical spin, particularly on his backhand. One shot zipped across the net and then leapt from the ground as if it had been bowled by Shane Warne. It was, bluntly, unplayable. So many of his shots were.
As Davydenko bent to return the most wicked of the slices, Murray offered him little respite in any other area of play. The Davydenko camp admitted ruefully before the match that the Scot had many more ways to win the match. He displayed the full range of his powers while The Terminator spluttered and ultimately blew a fuse.
The Murray serve zipped in at speeds of up to 135mph, his forehand was a bludgeoning, bruising weapon and his backhand was flawless. He threw in some subtle drop shots to add confusion to Davydenko's general air of surrender in the face of a greater force.
It was almost a shock when Davydenko rallied to win four games in the final set in an act of fruitless defiance. Two forehands proved the remnants of his game had survived but the end came quickly.
This, of course, was no surprise to those who have followed Murray's career at SW19. This is his seventh appearance at the championships and he has never lost in the first round. A depleted Davydenko was never going to change that record.
There is a danger to top players as they adjust to the grass but Murray has grown at Wimbledon and stretched away from those threats. He has reached three successive semi-finals at the tournament and this was apparent in the way he settled quickly and exuded a confidence that put Davydenko, a player of almost perpetual movement, into a terminal stall.
The Russian was always under pressure on his serve and could never exert even a smidgeon of concern to Murray when the Scot was serving. The one-sided nature of the match produced a strange atmosphere on Centre Court. This was a contest deprived of all tension and the crowd was left to indulge in Mexican waves and to react with glee at the most outrageous of Murray's shots.
The figures tell a story. Murray smashed in 10 aces with a first serve percentage of 67 testifying to his strength and his burgeoning confidence. He made six unforced errors and lashed in 27 winners.
But the eyes proved an unscientific yet persuasive testimony to the excellence of the Murray game. He now faces either Ivo Karlovic or Dudi Sela in the second round of the tournament and the Scot seems to have banished any fears after Boodles and Queen's Club that he might not be in the tournament for the long run.
It would be absurd to make outlandish predictions about his eventual achievements on the basis of such a facile victory but Murray did all that was asked of him and more on Centre Court yesterday.
The match will be seen as a persuasive statement about the decline of Davydenko, once a top-three player and, three years ago, the winner of the Barclays ATP world tour finals. But, perhaps more relevantly, it shows that players beyond the top four must have a weapon to confound the elite.
Davydenko had none. The Terminator was demolished. It is difficult to envisage him being rebuilt as a force at the top level. Meanwhile, the Murray machine marches on.
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