Andy Murray may not have been looking his best when he met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge today but he gave a performance fit for royalty to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the fourth successive year.
Talented Frenchman Richard Gasquet had been expected to provide Murray with a stiff test but, after coming through a tight first set, the fourth seed dominated to triumph 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-2.
Unlike last year's much-anticipated appearance of the Queen at the All England Club, the visit of Prince William and his wife was kept a secret and even the players did not know the newlyweds would be in the Royal Box.
That left an unshaven Murray feeling somewhat embarrassed when he met the royal couple after his match.
The 24-year-old said: "If I'd known they were coming, I would have shaved.
"I was thinking to myself as I came off that I was sweaty and very hairy. I said to them, 'I'm sorry, I'm a bit sweaty'.
"For me, those things are always quite difficult because there's a lot of people around, so it's not the most natural way to be introduced to people. But it was very nice to get to meet them."
Neither player bowed when walking on to Centre Court but Murray spontaneously decided to do so after the match, turning to the Royal Box after acknowledging the crowd.
He said: "I was obviously very happy after the match. I think that was the right thing to do. I hadn't planned on doing it.
"When the Queen came to our match last year we were told she was coming and that we would bow when we went on and off the court. But today we weren't told anything, so it was just off the cuff."
It was three years to the day since Murray's first grand slam meeting with his former junior rival Gasquet, and that turned out to be a Wimbledon classic as the home hope hit back from two sets and a break down to win in five.
Murray repeated the feat in the first round of the French Open last year, and in the early stages today it seemed another close match was on the cards.
Gasquet was the player racing through his service games while his opponent had to save a break point, but in the tie-break Murray upped his level, with two points against the serve giving him a decisive 6-3 lead.
The momentum shift continued in the second set, with Murray the one threatening to break, and he got his wish in the eighth game when Gasquet fired a backhand long.
The 17th seed is not known for his mental strength so the chances of a comeback to match Murray's in their previous meetings always looked slim, and so it proved as the Scot reeled off five games in a row to clinch victory.
Murray was grateful to his serve for helping him through the first set and admitted he had struggled to adapt to the hot and fast conditions, after playing his third-round match against Ivan Ljubicic on Friday evening under the roof.
The fourth seed said: "The second and third sets were much better. In the first set I returned poorly, so I wasn't able to get into any of his service games at all.
"I had no break points in the first set but I managed to string a few good points together in the tie-break. I served well throughout, which helped. But the first set was tough.
"There was very different conditions today. It was very quick compared with a couple days ago under the roof. So it took a while to get used to that."
His 1pm start time meant Murray suffered the most hostile of the scorching temperatures, and he said: "It was hot.
"I do a lot of training in Miami to try to get used to it. But the French Open wasn't particularly hot, and obviously the last few weeks here have been cold, too. So it was definitely a bit of a shock."
Gasquet felt the first-set tie-break had been the key to the match and praised Murray for his performance.
The 25-year-old said: "The first set we played for almost one hour. I had some opportunities.
"But he served very well, especially in the second set.
"He played well. He does everything well. He has a great backhand, a good forehand, he runs a lot and he's clever on the court."
Of his afternoon playing in front of royalty, Gasquet added: "It's very nice for tennis and for me to see them. I will have great memories from that for sure."Reuse content