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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life...because of financial woes, and pets sharing the bed
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
John Travolta plays John Gotti in the upcoming 'Gotti: Three Generations.'
people
Life and Style
lifeAiming to show breasts in a non-sexual way for cancer awareness
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Arts and Entertainment
tvBut something’s not quite right
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.

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week