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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Murray through after late-night thriller

Photo Titled Murray wins late-night thriller
Andy Murray after he won his fourth round match with Stanislas Wawrinka. The match ended at 10.38pm.

The first match to be played in its entirety under a closed roof at Wimbledon turned out to be a classic as well as a marathon as Andy Murray staged a dramatic recovery to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka in five sets, 2-6 6-3 6-3 5-7 6-3, and gain a place in the quarter-finals for the second successive year.

It took him just under four hours of draining commitment against a dogged and occasionally inspired opponent before, as his final forehand winner sped clear of Wawrinka's flailing racket, he fell to his knees in a mix of relief, joy and exhaustion. As he said immediately after the match, a deep sleep is now very much in order before he returns on Wednesday to face Spanish wild card Juan Carlos Ferrero in the quarter-final.

The 3rd seed, under relentless pressure to become the first British player to win the Wimbledon men's crown for 73 years, had been in serious trouble early on against Wawrinka, the 24-year-old Swiss Davis Cup player who is seeded 19th.

These two men are good friends and regular practice partners, but there was nothing friendly about the fashion in which Wawrinka went after Murray in that opening set, serving brilliantly and hammering ground strokes which reduced Murray to frustration.

Murray was broken in the very first game and, to the dismay of the packed Centre Court, surrendered serve again as Wawrinka surged into a 4-0 lead. There was no reprieve as Wawrinka served out the set in 34 minutes and again launched into the Scot's serve in the second set. Perhaps the crucial moment of the match came in the fifth game of the second set, with Murray fending off a couple of break points and taking a massive boost from the upsurge of crowd support.

Two games later Wawrinka called for the trainer, although he had not appeared in any obvious distress, and had his left thigh massaged. The treatment and delay may have alleviated any hurt, but it only served to inspire Murray. As the Swiss serve began to lose its pace and bite, the Scot pounced.

He reached break point twice and the second time made it count as Wawrinka sent a backhand out of court. Serving out for the set to level the match was no problem with Murray in this mood and he clinched it with his second ace.

The third set was a virtual repeat for Murray. Having fought off three break points in the fifth game, he immediately broke the Swiss, who put an easy forehand volley wide. Though he was not serving anywhere near his best at this stage, Murray was getting by on a rich mix of grit and skill and when he took the third set the momentum was clearly with him.

Wawrinka took a toilet break in order to regroup and it seemed to do the trick. He was a threat to the Murray superiority in the fourth set, missing break points in the seventh and ninth games before capturing the Murray serve to lead 6-5. Before long, he had leveled a gripping match which was now being played under lights. The record for a late Wimbledon finish had long ago been shattered.

Could Murray hold on in the fifth set? The crowd hoped so and Murray clearly thought so, going 3-0 ahead. But back came Wawrinka to level at 3-3 and at this stage the match could have swung to either man. In the end it fell Murray's way as, to a constant uproar, he had the Swiss on the defensive and broke for a 5-3 lead on his third break point.

It was a nerve-racking time to serve out for a place in the last eight but Murray was up to it. That his nerves were also up to it was shown by the exquisite drop shot which put him two points from the match. He got to match point on a ball which clipped the baseline and then came that winning forehand.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - 4th Round
Andy Murray GBR (3)Winner26656
Stanislas Wawrinka SUI (19)63373

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