Patience rewarded with a thrilling late night of high drama

Wimbledon

So that is how to get Andy Murray across the finishing line at Wimbledon. Threaten to turn out the lights. Welcome to the pleasure dome. This was tennis in the big top, a raucous night of thrills and spills a million miles from the strawberries and cream on which so much of Wimbledon's identity is built. What a change the roof has wrought, not only on the atmosphere on Centre Court, but on the performance of Murray.

It is an absurdity of English bureaucratic life that the players should be sprinting between points to beat the curfew imposed by the local residents in SW19; no fun after 11pm in leafy Merton. Health and safety. Murray won't mind. A match that he turned into a monumental struggle swung his way when the play went inside.

The Mexican wave is a tricky business in a frock but for Andy the gels were prepared to go for it, to risk trapping their tailored plumes in the posh seats as all hell broke loose. The audience had waited all day for this. They sat patiently through the anti-climax of what might be the last appearance on Centre Court of Andy Roddick, who lost in four and in the best of the weather to David Ferrer. Before that Serena Williams slugged her way past Zheng Jie, winning 9-7 in the third. But this was a different order of engagement; the main event on Saturday night, Murray's passage to the business end of the tournament.

Murray is every inch the 6ft 3in, 200 pounder, dimensions that would make him a super heavyweight at the coming Olympic boxing tournament, which is precisely the rating he is seeking in tennis. He has developed an impressive musculature. The bicep flex is not new. What we are looking for is the transference of that impressive physicality to the mental realm.

Marcos Baghdatis reached the Australian Open final in 2006 and the semis at Wimbledon, a run that included a fourth-round, straight-set schooling of 19-year-old Murray. Though a player of obvious talent he is seen more as a curiosity than a contender these days.

But as we saw with Lukas Rosol against Rafael Nadal, Centre Court has the power to inspire as well as enervate. Until the players left a darkening court with the match level at one set all Baghdatis was a live opponent, swinging like it was 2006 all over again. He engineered two break points in the seventh game that would have taken him to 5-3 and a chance to serve for the first set. He didn't take them but he was still the aggressor.

Up in the royal box the grandees of British sport looked down on the spectacle. Sir Bobby Charlton, England's cricket captain Andrew Strauss, Manchester United veteran and prospective Olympian Ryan Giggs, iron-willed champions who have learned how to harness nerves and doubt and channel them into productive performance under the cosh. Murray has the game of Italy or Spain yet sets up like Roy Hodgson's England, narrow, risk-averse and passive.

When he chooses to flick the switch the gear change is impressive, evidenced by the fury with which he served out the first set. At 2-1 ahead with a break in the second, the platform was there but Murray's confidence collapsed allowing Baghdatis to come raging back into the match. The break worked for Murray on this occasion. The light faded in Baghdatis as well as the sky. Next time Murray might not be so lucky.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own