Patience rewarded with a thrilling late night of high drama


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.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine