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Wimbledon: Murray wins another thriller under roof

Jun 25, 2011

Andy Murray

Any minute now somebody may need to remind Andy Murray that Wimbledon is an outdoor tournament. Before today he was the only player to have completed two career matches under the Centre Court roof. This evening the latest deluge over SW19 added another indoor victory to his tally - his second in three rounds this week.

This time the vanquished was the veteran Ivan Ljubicic, who stole the second set from an occasionally inattentive Murray, only for the Scot to triumph 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6(4) in just under three hours. Murray, champion at Queen's earlier this month, will play the number 17 seed Richard Gasquet in Monday's fourth round.

Ljubicic, ranked 33 these days, began the match bare-headed, but soon resorted to a towelling headband to keep the sweat out of his eyes - and he needed to, saving five break points at 2-3 in the opening set. After that a hold to love for Murray seemed the most likely prospect in the next game. Instead, the very opposite happened and Murray was broken without reply.

The Scot was distinctly unimpressed, bellowing at himself as he walked back to the baseline, remonstrating in the direction of his supporters in the players' box. He need not have worried. Ljubicic helped him out with two double faults and a wayward forehand to put the score back at 4-4. Murray moved up a gear, with a lob and a forehand in successive points bringing up two set points on the Croat's serve.

Murray was hugely frustrated when his return was not good enough to convert the first. But there was nothing wrong with his efforts after that, and he cantered back to his chair pumping his fist.

But far from carrying the momentum with him into the second set, Murray then had a poor service game. He fluffed a volley and then delivered a double fault to be broken. No great expertise in body language was required to detect what he thought of himself, and he was still chuntering a game later. Around the middle of the set it felt as if he was finding his touch again, but nonetheless Ljubicic sealed the set with an ace.

Come the start of the third, Murray looked anything but authoritative on his own service game, yet promptly broke Ljubicic for 2-0. From there he took a stranglehold on the set. His quickest serve of the match - 133mph - brought him set point. He closed out the set inside 29 minutes to take the lead in the match once more.

Ljubicic, a player who has never made it into Wimbledon's second week at Wimbledon, was giving away eight years to his 24-year-old opponent and may not have been feeling too optimistic at this point. At 2-2 came what seemed the hammer blow, when a backhand pass and then a forehand pass delivered the break for Murray.

At 4-2 ahead, there was even the chance for a moment of showboating as Murray gave another rendition of the through-the-legs shot he played twice at Queen's Club nearly a fortnight ago. On this occasion, the dash of impudence won the point and attracted rapturous appreciation from all those gathered under the Centre Court roof, but Murray was unable to build on it and grab another break of serve.

Instead, the score moved on to 5-4 and, with Murray serving for the match, he suddenly became inexplicably tentative. Ljubicic's attacking play and a misjudgement from Murray made it 5-5. The set went to the tiebreak, the Friday night noise inside Centre Court was ratcheted up another level and finally the man carrying British hopes of a first men's singles title closed out the match and gave himself a full weekend to prepare for challenges still to come.