Wimbledon 2016: Assured Andy Murray heads into second week
Andy Murray is through to the last 16 at Wimbledon 2016 after a victory over Australia's John Millman
Andy Murray, British No1, world No2, former Wimbledon champion and one of the favourites for the title at the All England Club this year, certainly had a better deal than most players in the draw.
He was heading towards the fourth round after playing all three matches on Centre Court—while many others were still dodging the showers in an attempt to play their second-round matches.
He could also get a day off on “People’s Sunday”, and that without yet playing a seed in draw and barely breaking a sweat: He had dropped only 15 games in six sets.
Now he played a man ranked 67 who, until this week, had played only two matches at Wimbledon—John Millman reached the second round last year—and almost gave up tennis three years ago after a serious shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, Murray’s biggest rival, the world No1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, came back to No1 court in four different sessions across two days, and made a shock exit to Sam Querrey.
The roar erupted on Centre Court as the news flashed up. Yes, the loss of the best player in the world, the man he had already played in four finals this season, who had denied him in the title matches of both Majors so far this year, the Australian and French Opens, and in their three previous Major meetings dating back to Murray’s triumph at Wimbledon in 2013, was out of contention.
Millman, though, was clearly a tough customer, for he had already beaten No26 seed Benoit Paire, and he put up a deceptively tough fight against the most partisan crowd at Wimbledon and one of the best players in the world. He had nothing to lose, and clearly loved every minute in the limelight—despite assorted delays as the roof opened, the rain fell, the roof opened again and finally the sun shone.
He told BBC Sport: “You dream of playing on the biggest courts against the biggest players. I feel as if I deserve to be there and I’m going to give it everything.”
However it took Murray only 33 minutes to win the first set, 6-3, after a quick break in the second game.
He took the lead early in the second set, too, and served for the set at 5-4, just as news of the Djokovic upset trickled through. A pause in proceedings brought a couple of errors from the Briton, and Millman break back at the third attempt.
Murray is a fighter of the first order, but even he must have drawn some extra energy not just from the Centre Court crowd but from a Royal Box packed to the gunnels with sporting greats, as is the tradition on middle Saturday. David Beckham, who had turned up with his son to knock with Murray at Queen’s a fortnight ago, looked on, as did members of the World Cup winning football team of 50 years ago, Gordon Banks, Bobby Charlton, Geoff Hurst. Tennis stars added their weight, too: Billie Jean King, Margaret Court, and John McEnroe.
And fight he did, broke again, and this time held on to his advantage, 7-5, in a 67-minute set.
All those illustrious onlookers must have been impressed, and even more so as he lifted his level to race through the third set. Murray broke in the first game, broke again in the third, and held for 4-0. In a neat and tidy 30 minutes, he had made it to the fourth round, 6-2.
Murray will face either No15 seed Nick Kyrgios or No22 seed Feliciano Lopez in the next round, all the while assured of that extra day’s rest denied to many others.
He told BBC Sport: “I thought it was a good match, a lot of long rallies. John moves well and doesn’t make too many unforced errors.
“When you go indoors it slows the conditions down a bit so it wasn’t easy to hit too many winners… I had to be patient and played some good stuff in the third set.”
Murray has already seen the next highest seed in his half, No4 Stan Wawrinka, lose, plus No8 seed Dominic Thiem. However, Bernard Tomic, ranked 19, advanced past No14 seed, Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4, and next plays either Sascha Zverev or Tomas Berdych.