Murray ready for man with grass allergy

It is not the most helpful of conditions to bring to the All England Club. Viktor Troicki, Andy Murray's opponent here this afternoon, is allergic to grass. "I'm allergic to grass courts, not just at Wimbledon but at other tournaments as well," the Serb said. "There's something in the air that bothers me."

Given his past record, Troicki also appears to react badly to Scottish tennis players. The 23-year-old from Belgrade has played Murray twice before and not taken a set off him. When they met in the Miami Masters three months ago he won only one game.

"He just destroyed me in Miami," Troicki recalled. "For sure, he's the favourite. He's one of the favourites to win this tournament and all the crowd are behind him. It's going to be tough. I'll need to play my best."

Troicki, currently at a career-high No 31 in the world rankings, had never seen a grass court until he was 18. Although he is a former Wimbledon junior doubles finalist, his results as a senior are what you might expect from a man with a grass allergy.

On his only previous appearance at the All England Club 12 months ago he lost to Radek Stepanek in the second round. He won one match at Queen's Club last year and lost to Nicolas Kiefer in the first round at Halle a fortnight ago, winning only three games.

Nevertheless, the Serbian No 2 has enjoyed a decent year, recording victories over such luminaries as David Nalbandian, Tomas Berdych and Ivan Ljubicic, and had a good first week here. He beat the Argentine Brian Dabul in straight sets in the first round and on Thursday came back from 4-1 down in the final set to knock out Spain's Daniel Gimeno-Traver. Murray watched the latter stages of the match from the players' balcony.

Troicki has never played on Centre Court before and has been inside it only once, when he watched Roger Federer beat Andy Roddick in the 2004 final. For Murray, in contrast, the arena is becoming almost as familiar as Dunblane Sports Club, where he learnt the game after picking up a racket for the first time at the age of three.

It is a good job the Scot is not superstitious as this will be his 13th match in succession on Centre Court. The last time he played anywhere else at the All England Club was in 2005, when, as the world No 312, he beat Stepanek, then world No 13, in straight sets on Court One.

In his four appearances here Murray has never failed to reach the third round. His form in beating Ernests Gulbis on Thursday evening suggested that he can go much further. If the unforced error count – just five in the whole match and none in the first and third sets – was the world No 3's most impressive statistic, his serving figures will have given him just as much pleasure, with 73 per cent of his first serves finding their target.

Murray puts his improved serve down to his better all-round physical condition. "I'm a lot more balanced throughout the whole motion," he said. "Before, my legs were stronger than my upper body and I would collapse a little bit. When you do that you hit a lot of serves long and it's not as good.

"Now I'm staying taller for longer and it's less effort to hit a hard serve now than it used to be.

"Before, I used to try to serve huge on a lot of the points, and try and get 130-140mph. Now I'm getting a higher percentage in and hitting the lines with a lot less effort."

He added: "I've always practised my serve a lot. Maybe I spend a little bit more time on it than before, but it's always been a very important part of my game.

"If you can take care of your own service game it puts an awful lot of pressure on your opponent and I have done that since I first came on the tour. I've tried to improve it, but the physical work that I have done has made a big difference."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
i100
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
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.

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor