Andy Murray is through to the last eight here for the fourth year in succession but insisted last night that he needs to keep improving if he is to end Britain's 75-year wait for a male Wimbledon champion. After beating Richard Gasquet 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 with one of his most convincing victories at the All England Club, Murray will face Spain's Feliciano Lopez in tomorrow's quarter-finals.
"I'm sure it will be a match that a lot of people will be expecting me to win, but I know it's going to be very difficult,' Murray said. "It's the quarter-finals of a Slam. I've just got to be ready.'
With Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic also winning, the world's top four players stayed on course to meet in Friday's semi-finals. The last time the top four seeds contested the semi-finals here was when Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Boris Becker and Goran Ivanisevic made the last four in 1995.
Djokovic beat Michael Llodra comfortably, but Federer and Nadal, who knocked out Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Martin del Potro respectively, both dropped a set for the first time in the tournament. Nadal, seeded to meet Murray in the semis, suffered a foot injury in the first set and said he would not know how serious it is until today.
Murray produced his best tennis of the tournament so far to beat Gasquet. The Scot took time to adjust to the hot and steamy conditions, having played both his previous Centre Court matches under the retractable roof, but eventually dominated.
"The second and third sets were much better," Murray said. "In the first set I returned poorly, so I wasn't able to get into any of his service games at all. I had no break points in the first set, but managed to string a few good points together in the tie-break."
He added: "You need to just try and keep improving with each match. It's when you go behind in matches, when you're pushed, that it's important to up your game and play your best tennis. I'm sure I'll get challenged in the next round. I've just got to be ready for it.'
Lopez, a big-serving left-hander, reached his third Wimbledon quarter-final by coming back from two sets down to beat Poland's Lukasz Kubot 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-5, 7-5. The 29-year-old is ranked No 44 in the world but has had an excellent tournament, having knocked out Andy Roddick in the third round. Judy, Murray's mother, might hardly know where to look tomorrow. She has made no secret of her admiration for the good-looking Spaniard, who is nicknamed "Deliciano".
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watched Murray's match from the Royal Box and met the world No 4 afterwards. Murray said he would have shaved had he known they were coming. Asked if he would like to be sponsored by Gillette, who have a deal with Federer, Murray replied: "I wouldn't have the discipline. I think all the Gillette athletes have to shave every day. I think they have to be clean-shaven. I probably wouldn't be able to keep that up."