Andy Murray overcomes Ivo Karlovic to progress at Wimbledon

 

Andy Murray survived a close encounter with Croatian man mountain Ivo Karlovic to reach the third round at Wimbledon.

It looked a dangerous match for the world number four and so it proved, with Murray making only eight unforced errors but still dropping a set before coming through 7-5 6-7 (7/5) 6-2 7-6 (7/4).

A break of serve at the start of the third set was an important moment for the home hope, and he edged the fourth-set tie-break when his opponent served an untimely double fault.

Murray, who restricted big-serving Karlovic to 17 aces, said: "Winning is all that's really important when you're playing a guy with his game. It's so challenging to get into a rhythm. I did well at the beginning of the third set to get the break.

"With someone like him it's a bit of a lottery but you hope he makes a mistake. He served a double fault in the tie-break and that was the difference. I felt I returned well today. I didn't get aced too many times."

Playing a man 6ft 10in tall, the last thing any player would want is to go down an early break, so dropping serve in the first game was certainly not what Murray's coach Ivan Lendl would have ordered.

Murray is one of the best returners in tennis but challenging Karlovic's serve is something else. However, the Scot proved he was up to the task by breaking straight back, albeit with the help of the net cord.

The flow of the match became more predictable until the 10th game when, with Karlovic serving to stay in the set, Murray found the perfect time to produce some of his best returns, earning him two set points.

He had talked in the build-up about the need not to get frustrated if Karlovic sent down unreturnable serves, and this was certainly one such occasion, the Scot having no chance on either point.

A super backhand return gave him another chance two games later, though, and this time he took it.

Karlovic thought he had served an ace on his second serve but Murray challenged and HawkEye showed it to be out.

Karlovic, watched by countryman and 2001 champion Goran Ivanisevic, kept his opponent at bay well in the second set, showing particularly good touch at the net for a man his size.

It was no surprise when the set went to a tie-break, and it was tight all the way through.

But Murray's passing shots deserted him just at the wrong time and it was Karlovic who took his first set point, a big forehand return putting him on the front foot and a volley clinching the game to level the match.

Murray had understandably started to look a touch frustrated but he had an immediate chance to break at the start of the third set when Karlovic dumped a volley well long, and he took it in fine style with a pinpoint lob.

It was the perfect response from the world number four, who then came through a tight game to ensure he cemented the break.

Murray was beginning to cause Karlovic, a quarter-finalist here in 2009, more trouble on his serve and a succession of good returns earned him a second break in the seventh game.

The 25-year-old had also got his passing game going and Karlovic could only net a volley off a forehand down the line, while Murray easily served out the set.

Two sets to one was a nice cushion but certainly did not mean the match was over, with the fourth seed knowing that one poor game would put him right back in trouble.

He did well to come through a test at 6-5 behind and into another tie-break they went.

The pair exchanged mini-breaks before it was Karlovic who made the crucial mistake, serving a double fault to hand Murray a 5-4 lead with two serves to come.

He did not falter, clinching victory when the Croatian sliced a backhand wide.

The draw does not get easier for Murray, though, with experienced grass-court campaigner Marcos Baghdatis or rising star Grigor Dimitrov up next.

PA

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