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Friday, June 26, 2009

Murray ready for Saturday showdown

The Championships - Wimbledon 2009 Day Two

Andy Murray will step on to Centre Court tomorrow with the famous Wimbledon hill cheering him on every step of the way.

Murray faces Viktor Troicki from Serbia in his third-round match, an opponent he grew up with as a junior and who remembers Murray as 'the tops'.

It could hardly be a more daunting prospect for Troicki, who is expecting the encounter to have the fervour of a Davis Cup tie.

Troicki admitted: "Even in juniors he was always the top and he has improved so much in the last year. He's playing great. He's one of the favourites to win it.

"I need to play aggressive, play smart, give my best and hope that I can play my best tennis. I need to believe I can win these matches against the top players."

The statistics are not on Troicki's side. In two matches against Murray on the ATP tour, Troicki has failed to win a set, winning just one game in their last encounter.

It gets even better for Murray when you consider Troicki has never played on Centre Court and Murray looks increasingly at home in the game's most prestigious arena.

There is every chance Troicki could freeze on his big day, just like Murray's previous opponent, Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, appeared to do in the second round.

"I will try to block it out," said Troicki, anticipating a passionate atmosphere on Centre Court.

"I will need some time to get used to the court and the atmosphere around Centre Court and then I will see how the crowd is reacting. I just hope that I'm going to play well.

"It's going to be maybe like a Davis Cup because he's playing at home and all the crowd is going to cheer for him. But that's tennis and you've got to play it like it is.

"It's going to be a great experience. I'm going to give my best and try to win."

Murray practised for an hour today on Wimbledon's practice courts with coach Miles Maclagan and his fitness trainers Matty Little and Jez Green, the team which has done so much this past 18 months to improve his physique.

The first week so far could not have gone better for Murray. He was given a wake-up call when losing a set in a lethargic first-round display against America's Robert Kendrick.

He stepped up a gear against Gulbis, a talented 20-year-old and a dangerous opponent and revealed he had received a good luck note from the Queen.

And while Roger Federer says any talk of a Federer-Murray final before the first week is out is "premature", if Murray comes through as expected against Troicki then there is no doubt that will be the buzz into next week.

The absence of Rafael Nadal through injury has given Federer a slight advantage in that by switching the Swiss star to a Monday start to kick off the tournament Wimbledon chiefs also handed him a two-day weekend rest.

By contrast Murray will get just Sunday off. But if he does the job against Troicki as expected then that should hardly be a consideration.

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