Andy Murray is through to the second week of Wimbledon once again as he left it late to overcome Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-1 and book his place in the fourth round.
The tennis match, which broke the record of being the latest finish to a Wimbledon game, began at 19.15 and though it was made clear no play would go on after 23.00, the game finally came to a thrilling climax at 23.02.
With the sun setting on another glorious day of tennis, Murray’s task seemed slightly less daunting as he broke in the eleventh game of the first set before serving out to clinch the set 7-5. With both men hitting it well, the windy conditions wreaked havoc on the serve and Baghdatis then broke twice in the second set to even the match up at 6-3, one set apiece.
With the clock at 21.15, Wimbledon officials decided it was time to close the roof as darkness began to set in and the players welcomed a half hour break as the roof was closed and the air quality was subdued before the third set kicked off.
Baghdatis struck first, breaking at 2-2 with a sizzling forehand down the line to give him a 3-2 lead. However, Murray stepped up, impressively winning the next three games and took the break back before emulating the first set and breaking at 6-5 to win the set.
With time against him, the crowd began to get restless, raucously throwing their support at Murray to rush his way through the (hopefully) final set; no one wants to come back to this on Monday. Willingly obliging, Murray produced some of his best tennis of the tournament, keeping every ball in play and producing his famed passing shots from all sides of the court. Baghdatis, looking increasingly subjugated, had no answer to the Scot’s power and relinquished complete control as the clock struck 11. Murray, gazing up imploringly at the umpire at 5-1, got his wish and was able to serve the match out effectively.
It was a match brimming with drama and easy-on-the-eye tennis; Baghdatis played his part well and the crowd applauded and praised his determination, all those in the Centre Court arena appreciating this guy’s character. A distinct opposite to the relaxed and taciturn Murray, Baghdatis was all smiles as he made his way on to the most renowned tennis court in the world, and though there was no fairytale ending for him, he would have been pleased with an aggressive performance that left many wondering whether the British candle was about to be blown out oh-so-early again.
Entertaining, yet odd; the game’s various stoppages and on-court incidents, such as Murray’s pockets not being deep enough to hold his alternative tennis balls, contributed to a rather peculiar evening, one which the crowd will feel did enough to give them value for their money.
With Baghdatis out of the picture and no play on middle Sunday, Murray can rest easy, knowing his fourth round opponent, Marin Cilic (yet another big-serving Croat), will be just as vanquished due to his marathon match with American Sam Querrey which ended as the second-longest tennis match in Wimbledon history, with the final set ending 17-15 (no tie-breaks in the final set).
Murray’s record against the Croatian is impressive and will no doubt be encouraging to those flocking into Centre Court on Monday. The two have met twice on grass, with Murray the victor in both games, despite the most recent being attributed to Cilic’s having to pull out through injury.
How Will Murray Beat Cilic:
Murray is a better all-round player than Cilic, and indeed most of the ATP tour, but this starts to count for very little in the second week of the world’s most cherished Grand Slam. Cilic is dangerous and will prove to be Murray’s toughest test. Like Murray’s second round opponent Karlovic, Cilic is a massive figure who is able to fire aces down at his opponent with relative ease. Murray’s status as the best returner in the game will come in handy here as will his recent experience against the likes of Karlovic. Again, Murray needs to absorb Cilic’s power and ensure he gets the ball back over the net to keep Cilic in check and disable him from dictating the points which he’ll look to do with his powerful serve and backhand.
How Cilic Will Beat Murray:
As Baghdatis proved, matching Murray’s groundstrokes is not a difficult task but the rallies have to continue to flow and Cilic will have to be patient. Cilic has a powerful double-handed backhand and will look to use it dictate points; having won Queen’s a couple of weeks ago, he’ll feel right at home on the grass courts. Unlike Baghdatis, Cilic is known for his calm demeanour and so it’s unlikely we’ll see much in the way of emotional outbursts from him. He’ll have to keep the crowd out of his head as well as they proved to be quite a handful on Saturday evening, something Baghdatis will be quick to attest to.
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