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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Murray hurries into last 32

Photo Titled Murray thanks the crowd
Andy Murray ackowledges the crowd's support after he defeated Ernests Gulbis in the second round.
Andy Murray accelerated into the third round with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 win over talented Latvian Ernests Gulbis in 88 minutes, with plenty of indicators that he could rev up British hopes right until Wimbledon's main contenders reach the end of the road a week on Sunday.

The first set was something of a stunner – stunningly good from the Scot’s point of view, stunningly tough from the Latvian’s. There was one brief glimmer of hope for 20-year-old Gulbis, right at the start when Murray somehow contrived to let slip his only two break points of the entire match.

But not only did the Scot’s mini-crisis pass, it was blasted off court by the sheer authority of Murray’s game from that moment onward. It was a dazzling display. His chance to break came at 2-2 from a combination of his own speed around the court and Gulbis’s errors – and once again it was a loose shot from Gulbis which gave away the break.

Murray, 22, was having a fine time of it, clearly able to read much of Gulbis’s play and out-thinking him all the way to the double break for 5-2. Gulbis seemed thoroughly thrown off balance. Murray brought up set point with a delightfully nonchalant drop shot and bagged it with an ace.

These two players are linked in more ways than one. For one thing, both shared the dubious honour of losing in last year’s Wimbledon to the eventual champion Rafael Nadal (although only Gulbis managed to win a set). But more notoriously, during their match at Queen’s last year Gulbis accused Murray of “cheating” by taking a medical time-out with a thumb injury. Moreover, Gulbis knocked out one Tim Henman in the first round at Roland Garros two years ago. But having been ranked 38 a year ago, this year has been tougher for him and he has not won back-to-back Tour matches all year.

Whatever their mutual history, there were no visible signs of hostility at the start of the second set, as Murray took his chain of successive winning points on his own serve to an impressive 19 before his first double fault of the match ended the sequence. Gulbis seemed more comfortable in this set, and the stellar wattage of Murray’s game was dimmed slightly from the extraordinary level of the first.

The Scot had to wait patiently until 5-5 for his first break point. The rally that followed was all touch from Murray and power from Gulbis, until the Latvian tried too hard and dumped the ball in the net. Murray served it out, and after 62 minutes it was all looking very straightforward.

Murray was on the Latvian’s case at once in the third, and Gulbis only held serve at a stretch. But in the face of Murray’s variety of play, Gulbis could not manage the feat a second time. Murray passed him with a crosscourt backhand to make it 2-1, and at the death he took the match at his first opportunity with another passing shot. A ratio of 36 winners to just five unforced errors made it a class display.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - 2nd Round
Andy Murray GBR (3)Winner676
Ernests Gulbis LAT 253

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