June 27, 2009
The only thing that 22-year-old phenom Andy Murray
couldn't do today was raise the roof.
The weather, threatening for most of the third round victory by Murray over helpless Serb Viktor Troicki, held. In six days of play, the only function of the $150 million retractable roof has been to provide shade for the royal box.
Troicki, disillusioned in the same fashion as Murray's last two Wimbledon opponents, did not hold.
Murray gained his first break in the fifth game of the first set and he never looked back.
Rolling out his full arsenal of tricks—rally changing slice, booming serve, exquisite angles—and once again displaying a remarkable ability to play error free tennis, Murray glided easily past Troicki, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, much to the delight of the capacity Centre Court crowd (and the hordes of Murray Mania enlistees frolicking on Henman Hill).
"I've got to be happy with the first week," said Murray afterwards, "I felt better and better with every match. But I have to play better if I want to come away with the title next week."
Murray, who faced only one break point during the match (he fought it off with an ace), only committed three errors in the first set, and then took a total of seven consecutive games to pretty much put Troicki out of the picture.
"The crowd is behind him," said a shell shocked Troicki. "He might be a champion. If not this year then next year. Even this year, he's looking good."
Not to disagree with Troicki, but he's looking better than good. This may be perhaps the best tennis that the young Scot has ever played. He appears to be embracing the pressure and enjoying the unabashed support of the crowd, a responsibility that some feared might prove to be too much for a young and unproven player in terms of Grand-Slam victories.
But Murray has been the consummate professional throughout, both on the court and off the court. His play has been as sparkling as his vintage Fred Perry attire in all three matches, and Murray's uncanny sense for the courts geometry has been complemented nicely by his ability to mix speeds and locations—he never allows his opponents to gain a sense of comfort out on the grass.
The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not Murray can remain this hot. It's hard to fathom that he'll be able to navigate all seven matches without a few nervous moments. And he hasn't faced the real heavy hitters yet.
Stanislas Wawrinka lies in wait as Murray's next opponent. The 19th seed will be the highest seeded player that Murray will have seen thus far. Wawrinka was Murray's victim in straight sets in the fourth round of the U.S. Open last year.
Murray's already soaring confidence level will likely benefit from that fact, and from the support of the fastest growing cult that tennis may have ever seen.
Murray maniacs can now enjoy their Sunday high tea in a relaxed mode—their hopes and dreams a.k.a. Andymonium, are alive and well.