The consensus after the fallout of Rafael Nadal’s second-round loss to Lukas Rosol was that Andy Murray would benefit the most. The pressure on Murray to become the first male Brit in 74 years to reach the Wimbledon final is immense. Tim Henman came close. Henman reached eight quarterfinals between 1996 and 2004 and four semifinals in five years between 1998 and 2004.
The remaining draw for Murray is brutal. He faces the daunting task of playing 16th seed Marin Cilic in the fourth round, the winner of Juan Martin del Potro and David Ferrer in the quarterfinals and Mardy Fish or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semifinals. Should he win all those matches, he would be rewarded by the likelihood of facing either Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer to become the first Brit to win Wimbledon since 1936.
Murray holds a 5-1 advantage head-to-head over Cilic. Murray has lost only seven sets in those six matches and holds a 2-1 edge in Grand Slams. Murray is seeking to advance to his sixth straight Grand Slam quarterfinal. He had a streak of five straight slam semis broken by Ferrer in the quarters at the French last month.
Murray has already faced a tough draw. He won in straights in the first round against former top five player and year-end champion Nikolay Davydenko. He won his second- and third-round matches in four sets against grass court specialist Ivo Karlovic and his third-round match against former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis.
His win against Baghdatis did not conclude until 11:02 London time, two minutes past the Wimbledon curfew. Officials in New York and Melbourne must have been laughing at the curfew.
Cilic has had an easier draw, but comes off an epic match against American Sam Querrey. Cilic won 17-15 in the fifth to advance. He has not advanced past the fourth round of a slam since advancing to the 2009 US Open quarterfinals and 2010 Australian Open semifinals in back-to-back slams.
Will Andy Murray advance to the finals at Wimbledon 2012?
Should Murray get past Cilic, his would next face the winner of David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro. Murray and Ferrer have each won five of their ten meetings. After a four-match winning streak, Murray has lost the last two meetings to Ferrer. Ferrer knocked Murray out of the French in the quarterfinals in June in four sets.
He holds a 5-1 career edge over Del Potro. They haven’t met since 2009 and Murray won their only slam meeting in the quarterfinals of the 2008 US Open.
Should he get to the semifinals, Murray would likely face Tsonga. He is 5-1 in his career against the Frenchman. They have split their two Grand Slam meetings.
Should Murray be able to live up to the hype and make the finals, the ratings across the UK would be unimaginable if he were to face either Federer or Djokovic. Just making the finals at this point would make Murray a national hero.
Andy Roddick is the last male to play for a Grand Slam title and win a Grand Slam title in his home country. He reached the finals at the US Open in 2006 and won the tournament in 2003.
Djokovic holds an 8-5 advantage over Murray. Amazingly, Murray holds an 8-7 career lead over Federer.
If Murray is fortunate enough to make it through his quarter of the draw, he certainly will have earned his way there. Most will remember it as the year Rafa went out in the second round. The second half of the fortnight should be interesting. There are still many stories to be told and plenty of drama to play out.