Murray marches on as sole Briton after Robson and Baltacha crash
World No 4 beats Ljubicic in four sets while Sharapova and Peng ultimately prove too strong for female duo
Saturday 25 June 2011
Andy Murray became the first of the game's big four to reach the fourth round after beating Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 under the Centre Court roof here last night.
While Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic will endeavour to join the world No 4 in the second week by winning their third-round matches this afternoon, Murray will have an extra day to prepare for his next match against France's Richard Gasquet on Monday.
"It's important to keep the intensity up, make sure you keep focused, do all the right things in the next couple of days, because we're used to getting into our routines of playing one day, day off the next," Murray said. "Obviously now I've got a couple of days. I need to make sure I do the right things."
Last night's match was the second time this week that Murray has played under cover. "The conditions are obviously different," he said. "That's why the next couple of days' practice will be more to make sure I get some hitting outdoors. The serving and stuff is very different when you're under a roof."
Murray came back from two sets down to beat Gasquet here three years ago. The Frenchman has rediscovered much of his old form this week after struggling for the last two years. "It will be a tough match," Murray said. "He's won all his matches pretty comfortably so far. He plays very well on grass."
Laura Robson's moment in the sun ended in defeat here, but according to her conqueror, Maria Sharapova, the 17-year-old Briton has "great potential". Sharapova, the favourite to win the title, had to come from 4-1 down in the first set before going on to beat the 2008 junior Wimbledon champion 7-6, 6-3. On a day when Elena Baltacha, the other remaining Briton in the women's singles, was beaten 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 by China's Peng Shuai, both home players could take encouragement from their performances.
Robson, undaunted by her task against the world No 6, made a sparkling start and pushed Sharapova all the way. The world No 254 led 4-2 in the tie-break at the end of the first set and impressed throughout on Court One with her ball-striking and big-match temperament.
"She has great potential," Sharapova said afterwards. "She's got to keep learning and keep playing and keep working hard. I think for everyone it's a really long road. It's great and it's important to play in front of thousands of people with the support of the British crowd.
"I also feel as you develop your game it's just as important to play the lower tournaments, when you are in the middle of nowhere and there's a small number of people watching. You're in the third set and you have to win those matches. That ultimately leads to experience. You learn a lot from those matches. She'll get that experience behind her back and she'll be a better player."
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