Andy Murray sunk big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic with a calm and collected 7-5 6-7 6-2 7-6 win and booked his place in the Third Round of Wimbledon where he will come up against Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis next.
With England’s early and slightly disappointing Euro 2012 exit at the hands of the Azzurri, Murray has suddenly been thrust into the limelight, all hopes and expectations now mounted uncomfortably on his shoulders. Many feel the Scot has something to prove as he, ranked 4th in the world, remains the only one of the ‘Big Four’ not to have won a Grand Slam event. His foray through the Wimbledon draw this year is one that’ll be watched with greater anticipation than ever before. It seems the pressure grows every year as he gets older, stronger and ultimately better (or so we pray).
With former World No. 3, Nikolay Davydenko, and 6ft 10 Karlovic already conquered, Murray’s next match against the amicable yet dangerous Baghdatis should prove to be a cracker. Baghdatis has beaten Albert Montanes and Grigor Dimitrov to get to this stage in the competition, having previously reached the semi-finals back in 2006, defeating Murray on the way, and illustrating the Cypriot’s talent and danger on the grass courts.
However, fast-forward to 2012, and the ball lies firmly on Murray’s side of the court; they share an equal head-to-head record of 3-3, and whilst Baghdatis is known for his superb forehand, the Cypriot has never improved on his scintillating 2006-form and though Murray will have to be at his best to see off the talented former World No. 8, he goes into the match as the strong favourite, claiming in his BBC column that he feels “absolutely fine”, and that there are “no physical issues” after the battle with Karlovic.
How Murray Will Win:
There’s very little wrong with Murray’s game nowadays and now that his fabled penchant for drop shots has been gradually diluted and/or perfected, it’s hard to criticise his style of play. What Murray does better than anyone else on the tour, save for perhaps Djokovic, is keep the ball in play. As pointed out by pundit and former coach Mark Petchey during the Karlovic game, Murray, in terms of stats, is the best returner in the game and his effective ‘counter-punch’ style should be enough to see off the aggressive threat of Baghdatis. Murray is a similar player to Baghdatis in that they’re both tactically astute and like to construct their points patiently; both have excellent placement and can delight audiences with their ability to produce obscene passing shots from anywhere on the court.
How Baghdatis Will Win:
Baghdatis’s chance to win will come through pin-point accuracy and reducing the number of unforced errors in his game; playing to his strength, his placement, will certainly keep him in the game and should generate a number of entertaining rallies for the on-looking fans. It will also help that his coach, Miles Maclagan, is a former coach of Andy Murray and he’ll be looking to utilise this aspect to its full extent.
Another talent that Baghdatis possesses is his vibrant personality; one of the most likable guys on the ATP tour, Baghdatis is more than able to coerce the British public into his side of the court with the Limassol-native known for his emotional outbursts, wide grin and entertaining style of play.
What Will Happen:
As World No. 100 Lukas Rosol proved in his stunning win against Rafa Nadal, anything can and will happen at Wimbledon. Many are prophesising this as Murray’s best chance to reach the Wimbledon final with Nadal plucked cruelly out of the draw, but with the likes of Baghdatis, Querrey, Del Potro still ever-present, this match is not going to be a walk-in-the-park and that will have to be firmly in Andy’s mind when he steps out on to the court. Though it’s sure to put Murray’s faithful through the wringer, this mouth-watering tie between two of the world’s best players promises to be an unforgettable match with twists and turns a-plenty.
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