Andy Murray has been insisting that his recent disappointing sequence of results was of no great concern and the 19-year-old showed yesterday that he could be running into form just in time for Wimbledon.
Having recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in beating Dmitry Tursunov in the first round of the Red Letter Days Open at Nottingham, Murray beat Max Mirnyi 7-6, 6-4 yesterday to earn a quarter-final against Italy's Andreas Seppi.
Mirnyi, an engaging character whose "Beast of Belarus" nickname derives from his 6ft 5in frame and size 13 feet, took the first three games as Murray struggled to cope with his powerful serve and punched volleys.
The Scot, however, quickly found a good length on his own serve to frustrate Mirnyi's attempts to get into the net and the world No 52 was soon being beaten by a series of whipped forehand cross-court winners. The first set went to a tie-break, which Murray won 7-2, and in the second he rarely looked troubled. Mirnyi saved a break point at 3-4 but Murray took his chance two games later, a clever lob and delicate drop shot earning the last two points.
Having lost in the first round at Queen's Club last week, Murray put his improvement down to a more aggressive approach. "I've also been more laid-back because I know I'm playing the right way," he said. " Last week was unacceptable, a combination of me not playing well, my attitude not being great and just playing a negative game."
Murray should fancy his chances against Seppi. The 22-year-old world No 72 does not have much of a grass-court pedigree, although he knocked out Dominik Hrbaty, the No 2 seed.
Like his fellow Britons Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, Murray will go into tomorrow's Wimbledon draw as one of those the seeds will want to avoid. The seeded positions, announced yesterday, are given to the 32 highest-ranked entrants, with a formula taking account of recent grass-court form deciding the actual number.
Rafael Nadal, the king of clay, was given a seeding to match his world No 2 status behind Roger Federer despite moderate results on grass. Andy Roddick, runner-up for the past two years, is seeded No 3, an improvement on his No 5 ranking. Lleyton Hewitt (seeded six and ranked nine) is another benefactor, while Andre Agassi (seeded 26 but ranked 20) pays for missing the past two Wimbledon tournaments.
Venus Williams, last year's champion, is seeded No 7, five places higher than her world ranking. Martina Hingis, playing her first Wimbledon since 2001, is seeded No 13, two places above her ranking. The top seed is Amélie Mauresmo, who lost in the first round at Eastbourne for the second year in succession yesterday, beaten 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 by Nathalie Dechy.
Kim Clijsters, the defending champion, was on court for only 13 minutes before Vera Zvonareva retired with a foot injury.Reuse content