Andy Murray had a high-quality workout against the world No15, Kei Nishikori, over two sets in an exhibition match at the Hurlingham club in London on Thursday, but afterwards needed precautionary treatment to his suspect back four days before Wimbledon.
There was no cause for alarm, however, and after his third title win at Queen's on Sunday the world No2 moved freely across the grass to win 6-2, 7-6 in the BNP Paribas Tennis Classic.
"I'm fine. It wasn't slippy out there, and it was just good to get a match in," said Murray. "But it's tough to know until I'm in a long five-set match. It was fine in three sets at Queen's. Five set matches are different."
"I needed time on court after being out for four weeks and really enjoyed playing at Queen's. I rested on Monday and had a hit there on Tuesday before coming here, and am really looking forward to Wimbledon. It will be the first grand slam event since the last Wimbledon with the world's top four players in it."
If that were a sly dig at the seedings, which puts Rafael Nadal at No5, Murray was not expanding on the theme, even though the French Open champion's presence outside the top four makes him the most dangerous of time bombs at Wimbledon.
Murray was happy enough to be standing on two sound legs and, with no after-shock to his body after a week of solid competitive tennis and this exhibition game on Thursday, he hopes to make a strong challenge for the title, which he contested with Roger Federer in last year's final. Nishikori, who has a history of injury problems himself over the past couple of years, pushed the Scot all the way in several testing rallies but when Murray started to hit his ground strokes deep, which was often, the Japanese player had trouble coping and was gradually worn down.
"He was too much for me today," said Nishikori. "Roger is still good, Novak [Djokovic] is still the number one player. But he [Murray] has good strokes and hopefully he does well at Wimbledon."
The mood was light-hearted and, after Murray cannoned a serve into a ball-girl at 4-4 in the second set, he made a point of apologising to her following the next changeover. "You OK?" he inquired, as she blushed in silence, nodding.
The draw on Friday will be crucial to his chances and, seeded No2 in line with his world ranking, he will hope to avoid Nadal before the semi-finals – as will the others in the top four: Djokovic, Federer and David Ferrer, who lost heavily to his fellow Spaniard Nadal in the final at Roland Garros. Murray missed Paris due to his back problem and, thus far, the extended rehab he had in that time appears to be paying dividends.
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