Andy Murray powers his way into Wimbledon fourth round
Scottish number two seed looks as good as he has ever done on Centre Court
Andy Murray hits a return on his way to victory over Tommy Robredo of Spain in their third round men’s singles match at Wimbledon. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters
Andy Murray used to keep the lights on at Centre Court. He used to wring three and four hours out of five-set matches that should have taken two. But yesterday at Wimbledon, it looked as if his fondness for the long rally, his antipathy towards risky, short points, were things of the past.
If coach Ivan Lendl has managed to impart anything to the number two seed it is to trust the things he has that can make life difficult for opponents, to use his serve and effortless power off the ground to end matches, not keep him in them.
Lendl has brought a sharper tactical awareness to Murray’s naturally big game and yesterday, the Scot bullied and shaped his third round match against Spain’s Tommy Robredo in front of a cooing and admiring Centre Court.
Few last night were off their seats wondering what was going to happen next. That’s quite a change.
The 2012 US Open winner and Olympic champion has yet to be taken more than three sets or to a tie-break.
Having won Queen’s, Murray has form and dropping out of the French Open with a back strain may soon look to have been a wise decision.
“I hope I can keep playing better,” he said after the evening’s 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 win. “I have been pushed in my matches. Today the third set was a tough one. I’ve been tested and come through it well.”
Occasionally in exhibition mode in the first set, Murray twice broke Robredo for a 4-1 lead. But the Spaniard, seeded 32, is something of a five-set specialist and knew nothing Murray did in the opening 30 minutes was going to tie up the match.
Holding that attitude, Robredo broke back in a loose sixth game by the Scot that had Lendl pulling even longer faces than usual in the players’ box. His default expression is lugubrious.
Power and movement
Murray’s power and movement, both of which have improved over recent years, were on show throughout, occasionally swatting backhands down the line which the 31-year-old could only watch skid by.
It took Murray 35 minutes to lock out Robredo 6-2 in the first set; he then took that mood with him into the second, straight up breaking the Spaniard’s serve.
He then threatened it again in the fifth game, his easy power from both sides confounding his opponent enough to take it 6-4.
Robredo elevated his tempo and aggression but at two sets down, it looked unlikely he would turn the night on its head and reach the last 16 at Wimbledon for the first time in 12 appearances.
The chiselled Murray was too imperious to fall into old habits and although he was pressed by Robredo’s urgency, he broke serve in the 10th game for 6-5 and ended it four points later. First hurdle cleared. He is into the second week.
“He started serving very, very well in the third set and I had few chances,” added Murray.
“I thought I struck the ball well from start of match, hit a lot of winners and that was very pleasing. I hit the ball better from back of court today. I’d been serving well but today I was pleased with how I was hitting it.
“Not from what I’ve heard,” he added after the suggestion the pressure was off. But nobody could be more aware of how this year’s draw has shed the top names.
“People are putting more pressure on me by the nature of how the draw has worked out. We’ll not get ahead of ourselves. There are a lot of young guys trying to make a break through here.
“In Grand Slams in the last few years the top players have had tough matches. Upsets are never far away. You have to be very focused on your game to avoid that.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky. Remember Sergei? His peak came against seven-time winner Federer two days ago. In a follow up that was entirely predictable, he was beaten by Jurgen Melzer of Austria.
The Ukrainian was on a different level on Wednesday when he played against Federer but that was his Everest and he could not summit again.
Stakhovsky lost the first set 6-2 and fought back to take the second set by the same score. The third set went to 5-5, before Melzer broke serve in the 11th game and served out the set.
Fourth seed David Ferrer came through 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(6), 7-5 against fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista.
After a second set wobble, he squeezed a little harder in the third and won it on a tie-break (7-4) before clinching the win 7-5 in the fourth.
Ferrer, a French Open finalist last month, has a busy schedule ahead, and is on course to set up a semi-final meeting with Novak Djokovic.