agencies
Wimbledon, 28 June: Andy Murray cruised into the Wimbledon fourth round as the world number two maintained the perfect start to his title challenge with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 win over Spanish 32nd seed Tommy Robredo on Friday.
Murray’s sights are firmly fixed on ending Britain’s 77-year wait for a first male winner of the Wimbledon singles title since Fred Perry and his path to the title is becoming less fraught by the day.
The 26-year-old, who faces Russian 20th seed Mikhail Youzhny or Serbia’s Viktor Troicki for a place in the last eight, hit 40 winners and served nine aces and hasn’t dropped a set in his first three matches.
The tournament had barely started when Rafael Nadal, a potential semi-final opponent for Murray, suffered a stunning opening day defeat. And when Roger Federer, another likely last four foe, was eliminated on Wednesday, the Scot would have been forgiving for pinching himself to check he wasn’t dreaming.
Throw in the injury withdrawals of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marin Cilic and a third round defeat for 15th seed Nicolas Almagro and suddenly only a list of unheralded names stand between Murray and another Wimbledon final.
"I thought I struck the ball really well from the start of the match. I had a lot of winners and that was probably the most pleasing part," Murray said.
"The third set was a tough one so I’ve been tested and come through it well. I hope I can keep playing better.
"People are putting even more pressure on me because of the nature of how the draw has worked out. "It would be a lot easier if we just concentrated on each match at a time. "Upsets are never far away and you have to be very focused on your game to avoid that." Fourth-seeded David Ferrer won an all-Spanish encounter against Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday to reach the third round at Wimbledon for a sixth consecutive year. Ferrer advanced with a scrappy 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4), 7-5 win in a match originally scheduled for Thursday but pushed back because of rain. He will next face No. 26 Alexandr Dolgopolov.
In other major results, Tommy Haas beat J Wang 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. In women&’s singles, Marion Bartoli, C Suarez Navarro and Flavio Pennetta went through to the next round.
Mixed luck
Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek had to work hard to beat Daniele Bracciali and Jonathan Erlich in the men’s doubles first round even as Mahesh Bhupathi and Daniela Hantuchova bowed out of the mixed doubles event at the Wimbledon Championships on Friday. Fourth seeds Paes and Stepanek won the match, stretched to second day after being suspended due to rain, with a 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-4 win after battling hard with the Italian-Israeli pair for three hours and five minutes. The Indo-Czech pair had secured the first set on Thursday before skies opened up, forcing suspension of play.
They next face local guy Jamie Delgado and Australian Matthew Ebden.
However, it was not a good day in office for Bhupathi and his Slovakian partner Hantuchova as they suffered a first round defeat in the mixed doubles. The Indo-Slovakian pair lost 7-6 (2), 4-6, 4-6 to Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Sabine Lisicki of Germany.
Bhupathi’s challenge in men’s doubles is still alive as he has moved to the second round with Austrian partner Julian Knowle.
They are up against American Nicholas Monroe and Simon Stadler of Germany.