Amid all the shocks, slipping and injuries Andy Murray has carefully strolled into the fourth round of Wimbledon without dropping a single set.
Yesterday, he emphatically beat Tommy Robredo 6-2 6-4 7-5 under the Centre Court roof. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfred Tsonga have already fallen victim to a bizarre few days at the All England Club – the trio, sighted as potential hiccups for Murray, have all exited the penultimate major of 2013 quite prematurely – opening the door for a possible easier passage to the final for Britain’s hopeful.
Robredo began the third round match with a hold of serve, Murray followed go equal at 1-1 but then broke the Spaniard’s serve – the long rallies of that particular game were finished well by the Brit and suited him more. The US Open champion confirmed that break with a hold to gain a firm grip of control on proceedings, beginning to bring Robredo into the net and persistently putting him on the back foot.
A second break by Andy meant his 31-year-old opponent had a large mountain to climb, higher than Henman Hill or Murray Mound. This came in spite of Robredo’s 40-0 lead at one point in that game but he was blown to pieces by the 26-year-old’s excellent passing shots and a particular fierce backhand that excelled at 95 MPH. Despite being 4-1 down, the ex-world number five took advantage of some poor Murray drop-shots to break-back. The Brit, playing for the first time under the roof since last year’s final, served out the set – 6-2, a ruthless set one from a man aiming to reach his fourth successive Grand Slam final. In the process of serving out the first set, the 2012 finalist played some quality tennis in the form of turning defence into attack, he hit a superb backhand down the line at full-stretch.
Andy Murray was on top form in the first set and continued it into the second set, opening the set with a break. But, soon, after a hold from each player, Robredo confirmed he wasn’t down and out just yet by breaking the Briton’s serve – Murray was a tad too wasteful and shouldn’t have allowed that to happen. However the world number two responded well, eventually serving out the set with good efficiency; 6-4.
The Barcelona man would have to come from two sets down to keep his SW19 dreams alive, coming from two sets down wasn’t something completely new to the veteran. Robredo had come from two sets down in three successive matches at Roland Garros, proving he does have the physical and mental strength required.
The third set was just settled by the single break. The one-time world number five had played well at the net in set three and really troubled the Scot at times, although it was Andy who held his nerve – a credential that Murray seems to possess in abundance now. The world number 29, under immense pressure on his own serve, crumbled in the eleventh game. Murray seized his chance, hitting a deep backhand volley that was too tough for Robredo to return, to gain the elusive break.
At 6-5 up the home favourite did drop one match point but on his second he had no such problems and took the match 6-2 6-4 7-5, much to the delight of the Centre Court crowd.
Ultimately, Murray possessed too much fire power for the Centre Court debutant and looks so comfortable on the biggest tennis stage. I have to say, based on this and his previous matches, and due to exits from the top seeds in this side of the draw, there’s absolutely no reason why the Brit can’t reach a second consecutive Wimbledon final – where he’s likely to meet Novak Djokovic, that is providing we don’t get any repeats of the previous few days’ antics, which can’t be completely ruled out because it is sport after all!
At the moment, I believe, Murray is playing his best tennis of the year thus far, he’s in the last 16 without dropping a set and is making efficient work of disposing of his opponents. Andy looks so composed and is playing with some top quality tennis, which all of his opponents to date haven’t come near to matching but, as the tournament progresses, it’s only going to get tougher and maybe more nail-biting for the British public. Jerzy Janowicz is now the highest seed left in Murray’s side of the draw after he beat Nicolas Almagro yesterday but, surely, Andy won’t be fearing him.
For now Murray has the weekend to prepare for a Monday encounter with Mikhail Youzhny or Viktor Troicki, who are first on Court Two today.
Our other editor, Jacob Lee, also wanted to give his opinion:
Andy Murray played far better than his Spanish opponent in the first set, with Robredo very defensive from early on, allowing Murray to dominate the match from the centre of his side of the court. However, after Murray’s early break in the second set, the veteran woke up and started attacking much more. It was then more of a case of Andy serving out the set than playing incredibly well. Nevertheless, he was holding serve much faster than his opponent, and his was impossible not to see the difference between how much better Andy has served this year than last – his 1st serve percentage in this match was 65% (including nine aces) compared to around 50% for the majority of last season. The last set was the only one where Robredo was in control, he opened serve and Andy squandered a few break points meaning he had to wait until the 11th game to break, leaving just one game for the Spaniard to break back. An almost impossible feat for any player, never mind the 32nd seed. With only Djokovic left to beat essentially for the Brit, I can see this as his second Slam.
On a final note, we’ll leave you with the recent internet hit that even got Keith Meisner, the singer of the song, an invite to Wimbledon by Andy’s mother, Judy. Meisner knew the Olympic gold medallist as a child and even played tennis against him as a youngster.
– Nathan Morley