Andy Murray cautious about Wimbledon despite swamping Stan Wawrinka

• Briton wins 6-1, 6-3 against Swiss in first round at Eastbourne
• ‘I’ll wait and see how I feel after this match and the next one’

If Andy Murray had to choose a song to announce his comeback, he could do worse than pick Chas and Dave’s Ain’t No Pleasing You. Not even a convincing two-set win over Stan Wawrinka on a hot Monday afternoon was enough to persuade the former world No 1 he is ready for Wimbledon next week – but it will be a major surprise if he is not there and raging to play.

Having just turned 31 and making pleasing progress from hip surgery, Murray knows time is not his friend; if he wants to squeeze the most out of the rest of his career, there will be only a few Wimbledons left in which to do it.

Yet his natural caution kicked in when asked courtside about his immediate future after a 6-1, 6-3 win that would have pleased anyone on the circuit, much less someone whose last Tour win was in straight sets over Benoît Paire in the fourth round of Wimbledon last year.

“I’m not going to decide until nearer the time,” he insisted. “I need to see how my body pulls up after a match – I’ll hopefully play at least two matches this week. So I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Hopefully the hip feels good and take it from there. I didn’t know it was going to happen today but I was OK with it. It’s good to get competitive matches with top players.” Yet, if Murray were to beat – or even compete well against – Kyle Edmund on Wednesday, he surely would commit to playing at his favourite tournament, the place that has brought him most glory: two of his three major titles and an Olympic gold, as well as mixed doubles silver. Just a 20-minute drive from his home, Wimbledon is where he goes to contemplate; it is the perfect place to proclaim without hesitation that the pain and frustration that has dogged him since he limped out in the quarter-finals there against Sam Querrey is over.

It is not often a first-round match between players ranked 156 (Murray) and 225 in the world – both of them triple-slam champions – has a packed centre court craning forward in anticipation of something special, but the Eastbourne patrons were treated to some quality exchanges in the hour and 17 minutes that this one lasted.

The first four days of the Nature Valley International were sold out even before Murray and Wawrinka took late wildcards but fans got more than their money’s worth as Murray dazzled the Swiss, then sapped the fight from him.

Every match for a little while yet will take on the feel of a visit to the doctor for Murray but he should be happy enough with the prognosis two matches into his comeback: one tight, three-set defeat by Nick Kyrgios at Queen’s and a very good win over Wawrinka, whose two knee surgeries last year beat Murray’s by the single operation on his hip in January.

Modern tennis has long resembled the set of M.A.S.H. without the laughs but there was plenty for Murray to smile about in this one. The limp is all but gone and the forward lean of the upper trunk is still there – but so are most of the lazy, rolling forehands into both corners, the savagely spun backhand saver under pressure and, most encouragingly, the hunger. Murray still wants to do this, no question.

“I’m very happy to get the win,” he said. “The first set I played well, the second set was a bit patchy towards the end. When you’ve haven’t played for a year, closing out a match against a tough guy like Stan is not easy. You can’t control who you get in the draw. Obviously short matches are better at this stage. I didn’t know if I was going to come today but it was OK.” Wawrinka’s serve was more lethal – eight aces to two – but Murray got a way higher return for his efforts, 81% of the points on first attempt, 50 on the second.

The applause rumbled like a soothing summer breeze across Murray’s sweating brow for most of the first half-hour as he dipped into his muscle memory to find the familiar rhythm that has worn down so many opponents the past dozen years. Wawrinka – struggling so badly side to side that he uttered: “I can’t fucking move!” near the end of the set – won just two of the last 12 points.

There was little in it until the fifth game of the second set when he made a breakthrough. He served for 4-2, a big serve down the T forcing a limp forehand reply. Wawrinka, who played well at Queen’s, was out of sorts but his competitive instincts had not completely dried up and he stayed within a break of Murray. In the eighth game – which lasted a third as long as the first set – he forced Murray to the edge, but not over it. Wawrinka served through two deuce points before a weary double-fault on second match point brought his afternoon to an end.

The prize for Murray is a second-round match against the player who has replaced him as British No 1 in his 11-month absence from the game.

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“Obviously Kyle has been fantastic, not just this year but end of last year as well,” Murray said. “He’s getting up close right to the top of the game. I’m expecting a tough one.” He loves a struggle.

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Kevin Mitchell at Eastbourne

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