To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling's If, long a favourite at Wimbledon, if Andy Murray can keep his feet while all around are losing theirs, he'll be a champion.
Today, while potential obstacles were slipping and sliding away, grimacing with pain as they went, the Scot breezed into the third round at Wimbledon despatching Taiwan's Yen-Hsen Lu in straight sets. Moreover, the way ahead eased significantly with Roger Federer, who beat Murray in last year's final, and the dangerous Jo-Wilfred Tsonga joining yesterday's extraordinary list of casualties.
Had the tournament gone to seeding and ranking Murray's opponents after Lu would have been Tommy Robredo (seeded 32) in the third round, Janko Tipsarevic (14) in the fourth, followed by either Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (6) or Marin Cilic (10) in the quarter-final and Roger Federer (3) or Rafael Nadal (5) in the semi. Robredo will make his planned date on Friday having beaten Nicholas Mahut 7-6, 6-1, 7-6 yesterday, but Tipsarevic and Nadal were knocked out on Monday and Federer yesterday while Tsonga and Cilic both exited the tournament through injury yesterday having aggravated pre-existing knee injuries. Murray is now the only top 16 seed in the lower half of the draw.
Murray's 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 victory was a useful work-out for the No.2 seed against an opponent who relied more on touch than power. Lu,a Wimbledon quarter-finalist in 2010, when he beat Andy Roddick, and Murray's conqueror at the Bejing Olympics two years earlier, detained Murray for two hours and a minute on court.
Lu saved a match point at 4-5 in the tenth match of the third set, and another at 5-6, but Murray would not be denied forcing Lu to hit long on the third match point.
It was a rare appearance away from Centre Court for Murray, which he may not have minded for there are fewer corporate guests and more tennis fans on No.1 Court with the result there was barely an empty seat in the house and a more rousing, if still largely restrained atmosphere.
The surface was no problem ether though Murray admitted he trod carefully early on. He said: “Maybe because of the withdrawals you have it in the back of your mind and I was a bit tentative at the start, but neither of us slipped. Sometimes on grass you just get unlucky.
Of his next opponent Murray said: “Tommy has started playing some really good tennis, he is very fit, he works incredibly hard, and has a lot of experience. It'll be a tough match. Even if he is two sets down he keeps fighting.”