July 8, 2017
Andy Murray made it. That’s the main thing. After all, anything can happen from here. As long as you’re in the mix, you’ve given yourself a fighting chance.
Murray plays a Frenchman called Benoit Paire next, and if he negotiates that tie, the quarter-finals await him.
It wasn’t a perfect display against Fabio Fognini on Friday night by any means, and Murray admitted to feeling off balance. Could that be down to his hip problem? He doesn’t rule it out.
But more ice baths and a good long rest over the weekend should prepare the world number one nicely for the more acute tennis challenges he’ll face in Week Two.
The Brit has shown that he has a fighting chance of retaining his title, which few thought possible just before Wimbledon started.
Indeed, many were questioning the wisdom of Murray playing Wimbledon at all this year. But Andy knew how adrenalin can be a good anti-dote to pain, and he gave it a go. Good decision!
In his last match, Murray had just enough to get past Fabio Fognini. And you wondered what the Italian could have achieved if he had bothered to move his feet on that baseline a bit more. Fortunately for Andy and his fans, Fabio didn’t bother for some reason.
Murray remains the bigger enigma, though. At the start of the tournament, as many doubted he would last the first week, Andy set out to prove them wrong. And he has.
No one was more delighted than those wishing to see a Federer v Murray final. That remains a distinct possibility at the time of writing.
In the mean time there has been much analysis of his Andy’s walk, as the world checks for signs of a limp, due to that troublesome hip.
‘But I’ve never had the smoothest of walks,’ smiled Murray as the speculation grew to fever pitch,
In a way, Andy is making his injury work to his advantage. Any technical shortcomings can be explained away by the dificulties he is encountering with his hip.
It takes the pressure off Murray’s game. And let’s face it, he was in a spot of bother at 2-5 down in the fourth.
‘I didn’t feel like I moved as well as I did in the first two matches, I felt like I was a little bit off balance. I don’t know if that was anything to do with my hip or not,’ he said.
Mentally, Murray came good just in time. The old fighting spirit got him through, just when we thought Fognini would have the momentum going into a fifth set, and an upset might be on the cards.
Poor Fognini squandered five set points, or rather a stubborn Murray refused to grant him parity. Instead he won seven games in a row to close out the match in style, winning 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. 7-5.
Some might say that kind of patchy form will never be enough to win Wimbleon. But look at some of the other superstars not yet firing on all cylinders.
Roger Federer admitted that nerves got the better of him for the first set on Thursday, one he only salvaged by virtue of an emphatic tie-break. So his form hasn’t been perfect, even if the breaker was!
Rafael Nadal struggled at times against Donald Young, impressive as his display was overall. When Young exploded into life, Rafa looked as vulnerable as anyone else would have been.
So the fact that Murray is experiencing problems shouldn’t make him any diffrerent from any of the other favourites.
The question is, who will step up in Week Two and find the brilliance that will be necessary to win the title?
If Murray faces Nadal in one semi-final, you can bet that both men will try to raise their level higher still.
The same will go for Federer and Djokovic, if it turns out they have fought off all the fierce rivals trying to block their path to the business end of the tournament.
But as we rest over the weekend, we can reflect that we are lucky to have Murray still standing. A week ago, that seemed highly unlikely.
Now a ticket for a Murray match is as hot as the recent Wimbledon sunshine, and people are starting to believe that he might just be able to emulate Fred Perry and lift the trophy for a third time.
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