Andy Murray believes the roaring home crowd at Wimbledon can make all the difference as he bids to clinch a second men’s singles title at the All England Club.
Murray booked his place in the fourth round on Saturday with a 6-2 6-2 1-6 6-1 win over Andreas Seppi but the 28-year-old had to overcome a third-set blip, which saw the Italian win six games in a row.
Britain’s number one, however, came roaring back, fist-pumping and firing up the Centre Court support, to overturn a break in the fourth and clinch a convincing victory.
The comeback came just a day after Murray’s compatriot Heather Watson had also ridden the wave of British fervour, pushing world number one Serena Williams to the brink of defeat, before the American edged through in three sets.
Murray’s use of the crowd to boost his performance has become an emerging feature of his game in recent months – he roused French support to great effect against Novak Djokovic at Roland Garros – and the Scot believes it can give him the edge in the second week at SW19.
“When you can get the crowd involved in the match, it makes a huge difference to your performance – you saw that with Heather,” said Murray, who now faces Ivo Karlovic in the last 16. “It goes to show that when everyone goes on about the pressures of playing at Wimbledon, how difficult it is – yes, the pressures are hard, but Heather arguably played the best match of her career yesterday. She played unbelievable.
“It shows that the crowd, they really do make a big difference. They help a lot once you get out there.”
James Ward’s finest grand slam showing ended in an agonising five-set defeat to Canada’s Vasek Pospisil, with Wimbledon’s second week remaining just out of reach.
Ward’s SW19 heroics were brought to a deflating end by his 25-year-old friend 6-4 3-6 2-6 6-3 8-6.
The 28-year-old British No 4 had thrilled the south west London crowds by dispatching Luca Vanni and Jiri Vesely for his best grand slam return, but could not quite repeat the feat against the world No 56.
The London cabbie’s son was just unable to complete what would have proved a remarkable victory.
Ward left Court One and admitted it would take time to appreciate the bigger picture.
“Not right now no,” conceded Ward, when quizzed if he could cling to a week when he has broken into the world’s top 100 for the first time and banked £127,000.
Three years ago Arsenal fan Ward was forced to sell his season ticket to fund his tennis career and while he will bemoan his fate in failing to progress, the nation will toast a worthy competitor for an overdue breakthrough.
“It’s mixed emotions, I didn’t play to the best of my ability,” he said. “I gave myself a chance, but he lifted and you’ve just got to give credit to him.
“I’m sure I’ll look back on the good things, get ready for Davis Cup and get ready to go again.”
Defending champion Petra Kvitova was hustled out by former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic as the Serbian savoured rare SW19 success.
Although she won the mixed doubles with Jamie Murray in 2007, singles at the grass-court grand slam has been a perpetual struggle for Jankovic who has never gone beyond the fourth round. She is back at that stage, for the fifth time in her career, after a dramatic 3-6 7-5 6-4 victory over Kvitova.
A set down, a break down, and facing two more break points on her serve, it seemed that Jankovic was heading out, but she turned the contest around and it was Kvitova whose game was crumbling come the final points.
Jankovic said: “I can’t stop smiling. I’m really, really happy. I don’t know how to explain it. But it’s a really big win for me, especially playing on Centre Court against a two-time champion. It’s really amazing.”