I said it last week and I have said it already in week two – I like a guy to be tested through the rounds at a Slam so come the business end of the tournament he is ready to walk the walk. It does a player good to be stretched, I’m sure of that. So I look at Andy Murray, four matches and not a set dropped. One tie-break, that’s as squeaky as it’s got for Andy.
That’s no test, and then as you watch him play, see the way he went past big Kevin Anderson, whupping back those returns from Anderson’s missile of a serve, and you start to think, hang on guys, just hang on, this boy is for real. It is not that he is not being tested, it’s simply that he is playing too well for any of his opponents to get anywhere close. Andy Murray is in the form to defend his title.
I have been so impressed with Murray – and in particular against Anderson on Monday. A big serve on grass is a big weapon and Murray just chewed it up and spat it out. This is a guy who looks on top of his game and, if anything, he looks a better player than last year.
From what I have seen at Wimbledon his serve is in smoother working order than it has ever been. The second serve has been a weakness. It is getting better, although he won only 39 and 44 per cent of his second serves in the last two rounds – to make a quick comparison, Novak Djokovic won 68 per cent of his second serves against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. So there is still work to be done there but when his first serve is firing so well then there is less need to worry about what else is in the armoury.
But the best of Murray is his returning. Oh boy, it had me purring against Anderson it was that good. Not only was he getting back Anderson’s serve, he was sending them back with interest, fizzing across court, winners all the way. Murray hit 49 winners against Anderson and those are good numbers in a three-set match.
That’s how I see it – Grigor Dimitrov has to make damn sure his serving is too much for Murray’s returning. The Bulgarian has been serving well – holy cow, he has been playing pretty well all over the court – with a first-serve percentage averaging in the 80s and it will need to be up at that level again.
It has the makings of a classic contest: two players who cover the court well – though I put Murray a little ahead in that – two players who serve well, two players who can mix it up and two players who go out there with plenty of confidence. Murray has the edge in most areas, though, and so he should as the defending champion at the peak of his career. But Dimitrov is tomorrow’s guy, the coming man. The question is when will tomorrow come? Soon I think because I like what I have seen at Wimbledon – man do I have a thing for his one-handed backhand.
Everything is there and since he took on Roger Rasheed as his coach he has taken off this year. Finally that talent that saw him called “Baby Fed” a few years back is beginning to be matched by results on court. Now he is maturing into Grown-up Grigor – winner at Queen’s a couple of weeks back, conqueror of Murray on the way to winning in Acapulco, where he came back from a set down.
Another thing I said last week is that if I could pick out one man to coach right now it would be the 23-year-old Bulgarian. I haven’t changed my mind about that, this guy has it all, but Murray is just full of it at the moment, he has the strut of the champion. Look at some of those drop shots he was pulling out against Anderson on Monday. He could’ve landed them on a dime. Murray is top class right now.
Wednesday’s big game: Murray v Dimitrov
Andy Murray/Grigor Dimitrov
British Nationality Bulgarian
27 Age 23
London Residence Haskovo, Bulgaria
6ft 3in Height 6ft 3in
Right-handed Plays Right-handed
5 World ranking 13
28 Career titles 4
$31.5m Prize-money $3.27m
41-7 Wimbledon record 7-4
Winner (2013) Wimbledon best Q-f (2014)
Won 3 Head-to-head Won 1
Bollettieri’s prediction Murray in four
Coaching report: Kyrgios has proved we can’t predict anything
Holy shoal of mackerel! What a day that was. Who saw that coming? Nadal – out. Sharapova – out. What a tournament Wimbledon 2014 is becoming and who knows what is coming next? I have one piece of advice for you – keep your money in your pocket, boys and girls, because this is one unpredictable tournament.
The teeny boppers are playing their tunes all over Wimbledon – there’s new talent on the women’s side and now here’s this Aussie guy. Nick Kyrgios, 19 years old and he has just blasted Rafa Nadal clean off Centre Court. Kyrgios has a thunderous serve and a thunderous forehand and he’s clearly got balls, too. What a performance.
I didn’t see Maria Sharapova going out like that to Angelique Kerber either. And look at the match stats and it gets even more confusing. Most of them are in Sharapova’s favour – half as many double faults, a better first-serve percentage, equal on the second serves and more than twice as many winners, 57-27. That doesn’t add up, does it? Now take unforced errors: Kerber 11, Sharapova 49. And there you have it. Maria made the mistakes and Kerber didn’t.
The most amazing stat of the day, though, belongs to Sabine Lisciki. She sends down 20 double faults and on Wednesday she will play in the quarter-finals again. Wow! I know all too well from the time she spent at the IMG Academy that Sabine is a fighter who can guts her way through a match. It was a good job that forehand was in good working order otherwise she would have been in deep trouble. She got it done but she won’t get away with that broken-down serve in the quarters against Simona Halep.