Andy Murray offered encouragement that he could be ready to compete at Wimbledon as the former world number one beat Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-3 at Eastbourne on Monday.
Murray was playing only his second match after 11 months on the sidelines with a hip injury that required surgery in January.
The 31-year-old had lost on his comeback against Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s Club last week and claimed after that defeat that he might not be fit enough for Wimbledon.
With Wimbledon getting underway on July 2, Murray, who has won the tournament twice, is in a race to prove his fitness for the All England Club.
Keen to discover just far along he is on the road to recovery, Murray — now 156th in the rankings — took a trip to the seaside, accepting a late wildcard entry into the grass-court event at Eastbourne.
Beating a former Grand Slam champion of Wawrinka’s calibre in the first round is a major boost to Murray as he weighs up the risks of competing at Wimbledon with so little match practice under his belt.
“I am going to decide nearer the time. I need to see how my body pulls up. I’ll see how I am tomorrow and take it from there,” Murray said of his Wimbledon prospects.
“I’m very happy to get the win. I thought the first set I played well, but the second set was patchy and I was a bit nervous.
“When you haven’t played for the best part of a year, when you face someone like Stan it is tough. But obviously, I am delighted to get the win.”
After clinching his first victory since last year’s Wimbledon fourth round success against Benoit Paire, Murray will face fellow Briton Kyle Edmund in the Eastbourne second round on Wednesday.
Murray admitted after Queen’s that he had only been practicing for up to 90 minutes, making it a gamble to push his body any further at Wimbledon.
And Tim Henman, a close friend of Murray’s and a former British number one, is surprised the Scot has got this far on the comeback trail already.
“If you had said to me five weeks ago that he would have been playing the grass court season then I would have said that it is highly unlikely,” Henman said in an interview with The Scotsman.
Yet Murray relishes the chance to star at Wimbledon and remains hopeful of making it back next week.
He started encouragingly, breaking Wawrinka’s serve twice in the first set on a sweltering early evening on the south coast.
The three-time major winner’s movement was also solid, even if his Swiss opponent was far from his best following his own problems returning from knee surgery last year.
With Wawrinka struggling, Murray pressed home his advantage with a break midway through the second set.
He finished off an impressive win thanks to a double-fault from the beleaguered Swiss.