Fired-up Murray roars back into form

Scintillating Scot dismantles Simon to set up clash with Querrey for place in quarter-final

Even amid the applause of a jubilant Centre Court crowd, Andy Murray's roar of celebration could be heard all around the stadium. After shaking hands with Gilles Simon following his emphatic 6-1 6-4 6-4 third-round victory, Murray stood in the middle of the court and bellowed out a huge: "Come on!"

Murray's third consecutive straight-sets victory of the week was completed in an hour and 50 minutes and featured some thrilling play by the 23-year-old Scot. Simon, who has dropped 26 places in the world rankings from a career-high No 6 after suffering a serious knee injury, was outplayed from start to finish. His smile at the end almost suggested that he had enjoyed watching Murray's display as much as the crowd. It was Murray's 20th consecutive victory over French opposition.

The last four months since his defeat to Roger Federer in the Australian Open final have not been easy for the Scot, but after a run of eight tournaments which have yielded just two quarter-final appearances he is playing his way back into form. There had been a spark missing from his game in recent times, but his old self-assurance seems to be returning.

Some of Murray's play – from drop shots and volleyed lobs to thunderous backhands and booming serves – was a joy to watch. For the second match in succession he did not drop his serve (indeed he has been broken only once all tournament), while 36 winners and only 18 unforced errors told their own story.

In tomorrow's fourth round he will play the American Sam Querrey in the third match on Centre Court. Querrey, who won the Aegon Championships at Queen's Club a fortnight ago, beat Xavier Malisse 6-7 6-4 6-2 5-7 9-7 in a match that finished at 9.22pm in near darkness on Court One. Murray has won all three of their previous meetings.

Murray and Simon were delayed by Rafael Nadal's laboured five-set victory over Philipp Petzschner, but by the time they started, just after 7pm, the conditions – warm, still and with the Centre Court mostly in shade beneath a cloudless sky – could hardly have been better.

On Wimbledon's middle Saturday sporting superstars past and present are invited into the Royal Box, but when the first ball was struck only 10 of the seats were occupied. Sir Chris Hoy, at least, was on hand to support his fellow Scot, having sent him a message of encouragement earlier on.

Simon's head-to-head record against Federer is an indication of his talent – he has won their only two meetings – but he has had a difficult last 12 months. He has played in only six tour-level events this year, in four of which he has lost in the first round.

The Frenchman was in trouble from the moment Murray hit a 131mph ace on the very first point. Four successive errors saw Simon drop his first service game to love and after another break in the sixth game Murray took the set in just 23 minutes with an exquisite drop shot.

The Scot served out for the second set after breaking serve in the opening game. It was not until the second game of the third set that Simon got to deuce (but no further) on the Murray serve for the first and only time in the match.

By this stage Murray was starting to play some champagne tennis. A wonderful improvised lob after an exchange of drop shots won one point, while another ended with Simon lying on the ground in disbelief after Murray had hurtled from one corner of the court to the other to hit a glorious forehand winner, having chased down what looked to be a winning volley.

Murray's play had the crowd in an increasingly festive mood, though Simon, upping his own game, clung on. With the evening starting to close in, there was a possibility that the players would have to take a break while the roof was closed, enabling the match to be completed under artificial light, but at 4-4 Murray broke again. The world No 4 wasted little time completing victory in the following game with his 15th ace of the match.

"It was really good," Murray said. "I haven't lost a set and I haven't lost my serve since my second service game of the first match. Tonight was tough because it was getting pretty dark near the end. If I hadn't managed to close it out in that third set we would have had to go off and wait for the roof to go on. I was a little tentative around 3-3, but I played really well."

Murray said Querrey would provide a tough test. "He's a very good player," he said. "He's got a big serve – bigger than the guys that I've played so far – and a slightly more unpredictable game. The rallies will probably be a bit shorter, but I've played well against him in the past."

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower