Murray failed to earn a seeding for the Grand Slam tournament but managed to avoid some of the higher-ranked names, while Peniston enters as one of several home wildcards.
Making a few waves on the grass without managing to force his way into the elite ATP crowd, British number seven Peniston prepares for just a second-ever main draw Grand Slam appearance after getting as far as the second round at SW19 in 2022.
The 27-year-old earned a pair of standout Scandinavian successes prior to last year’s major, defeating Casper Ruud at Queen’s before seeing off Holger Rune at Eastbourne – reaching the quarter-finals on both occasions – and Henri Laaksonen soon fell to the Brit’s superiority in Wimbledon round one.
Peniston’s run was brought to a swift end at the hands of Steve Johnson, and the world number 267 has since suffered three failed qualifying ventures for the US Open, Australian Open and French Open, but he already has one giant killing to his name from the grass-court season.
Indeed, Peniston – a four-time champion on the ITF Futures tour – shocked Frenchman Ugo Humbert in straight sets in the first round of Queen’s, but attempting to make lighting strike twice against Rune was a step too far, as the Dane avenged last year’s defeat to the 27-year-old with a 6-3 6-4 success.
A swift Eastbourne exit to Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler followed for Peniston, who has only managed to convert an average of 35% of his break points throughout his career, albeit while saving 60% against him.
Preview: Ryan Peniston vs. Andy Murray – prediction, head-to-head
Against the defensive master that is Andy Murray, such failures on the two-time winner’s serve could no doubt prove fatal for Peniston, as his compatriot seeks another memorable run on the grass following a pair of home triumphs already in 2023.
Wimbledon champion in 2013 and 2016, Murray has only managed to get as far as the third round since 2018 as his perennial physical problems continue to plague him, and the former world number one opted to skip the French Open in a bid to hit optimal fitness for SW19.
Such a decision initially paid dividends, as Murray clinched back-to-back Challenger titles at the Surbiton and Nottingham Opens, but his fleeting hopes of entering Wimbledon as a seeded player were extinguished at Queen’s, where he was comfortably dispatched by Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-3 6-1.
Winning just 29% of points behind his second serve on the day, Murray was punished for a catalogue of mistakes, and the three-time major winner has only reached one final on the ATP Tour in the 2023 season – losing to Daniil Medvedev in two sets at the Qatar Open.
Furthermore, whichever man earns the local bragging rights on Tuesday may not feel all that optimistic about their chances of a third-round appearance, as either Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or 2020 US Open winner Dominic Thiem will face the winner aiming to spoil the British parade in round two.
We say: Andy Murray to win in four sets
In what will undoubtedly be the biggest match of his unspectacular career so far, Peniston – who has already developed a penchant for shock results on grass – can trouble his more esteemed counterpart the longer the match goes on.
However, overcoming adversity has been one of Murray’s fortes in 2023 – and indeed throughout his career – and we can only back the two-time champion to send his close friend packing en route to a challenging second-round encounter with Thiem or Tsitsipas.