Watch: Andy Murray pulls off rare underarm serve - and it very nearly backfires

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Watch: Andy Murray pulls off rare underarm serve - and it very nearly backfires - AFP
Watch: Andy Murray pulls off rare underarm serve - and it very nearly backfires - AFP

The underarm serve has been made popular in recent times by Nick Kyrgios, and is the subject of derision in some quarters - just ask Rafael Nadal- but is a tactic rarely seen among the game’s very best.

But ask the Centre Court crowd of what they thought of Andy Murray’s effort in his first-round win on Monday and they would likely say it was magic.

Murray is known as a great tactician of the game. So when he saw James Duckworth camped behind the baseline on Centre Court, he spotted his opportunity and delivered a controversial underarm serve to try to catch him out.

"Is this Kyrgios or Murray?," said John McEnroe while commentating for BBC. "I don't think I have ever seen that from Murray. Wow."

Only, it wasn't the greatest of deliveries, with Murray hitting the ball too deep and the high bounce gave Duckworth more than enough time to get his racket to it.

It left the very real prospect of Murray - by now in the ascendency in the match - with egg on his face.

But then came a classic Murray sequence: a lob and then subsequent smashing away of Duckworth's attempt to stay in the point.

The Centre Court spectators were caught between laughing and cheering for a moment, before they all got to their feet to celebrate the two-time champion's audacity. It was a memorable point, and helped consolidate the momentum swing in Murray's favour as he went on to win the third set.

Such is the rarity with which the underarm serve is deployed, this was Murray’s first at Wimbledon, although he has previously deployed it at Indian Wells in America in recent times.