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Murray starts latest stat-attack in style

By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The problem for Andy Murray is that every time he arrives at Wimbledon he is saddled with erasing a statistic.

Last year he did it in the most memorable fashion, ending 77 years of hurt for success-starved British tennis by beating Novak Djokovic to win the men's singles.

Now, Murray's mission is to become the first British man to successfully defend his title since Fred Perry - 78 years ago.

He must wonder what he has to do to un-link his name from that of former British great Perry.

However, he made an emphatic start to his latest challenge on Monday with a comprehensive 6-1 6-4 7-5 defeat of lively Belgian lightweight David Goffin on Center Court.

The 27-year-old walked on court to a deafening standing ovation that evoked happy memories of his straight-sets defeat of Djokovic. Once play began, however, the third seed got straight back down to business.

Finding the grasscourt groove from the first point, Murray rattled through the first set in 28 minutes and despite being pushed harder thereafter was always in control.

"Yeah, it was nice," Murray, whose grandparents Roy and Shirley were guests in the Royal Box, said of his reception.

"I was pretty nervous before the match. Then when you're walking to the court, I have a lot of memories obviously from last year. To come to the court and get that reception, it was very nice. It was great.

"I enjoyed it for the walk to the chair. Then when I sat down, it was time to get on with business."

Murray has developed broad shoulders since taking over the baton as home hope from perennial semi-finalist Tim Henman, and insists the glare of the spotlight does not bother him.

"Once the tournament starts, I don't really care, to be honest," he said. "I always say the build-up to the tournament is the hardest part. Once the tournament starts, it's fine.

"I don't turn the TV on. I don't watch too much of the tennis. I don't read any of the papers. I don't go online. I just avoid it, concentrate on playing."

The 23-year-old Goffin, who has flat-lined since pushing Roger Federer hard in the fourth round of the 2012 French Open, shook off the early nerves to extend Murray in the second set and actually make the Scot scamper a little in the third.

He even carved out two break points only for Murray, with new coach Amelie Mauresmo watching on intently with the rest of his support team, to respond to the danger.

One flicked backhand down the line by Goffin to hold serve in the next game had the man from Liege smiling, but his resistance snapped at 5-5 when he dropped serve from 40-0 up.

Murray duly held serve in the next game to move through and maintain his record of avoiding first-round defeats at grand slams since an early loss at the 2008 Australian Open.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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