Improving Murray wins as Nadal toils through
Thu, 09 Jun 20:49:00 2011
Second seed Murray, who will spend the next few weeks shouldering Britain's hopes of a first men's Grand Slam Champion since 1936, beat wily Serb Tipsarevic 6-4 7-6 despite losing his service at the start of each set.
Top seed Nadal, fresh from his record-equalling sixth French Open title, was handed a stern test as he dropped the second set while serving for the match in a 6-3 5-7 6-1 win over Czech Stepanek.
And finishing the day's action was British outsider Jamie Ward, who delighted a partisan evening crowd in West London by taking a set off reigning champion Sam Querrey of the US to level at 1-1 before bad light stopped play.
Andy Roddick, the third seed who is looking for a record fifth title at the traditional Wimbledon warm-up event, was equally impressive as he dispatched towering South African Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-4 to set up a quarter-final against Spain's Fernando Verdasco, a 7-5 6-1 winner against David Nalbandian.
Two French players were forced to withdraw injured. Gilles Simon retired with a back strain at 3-0 down in the third set against compatriot Adrian Mannarino in a second round match held up overnight and Michael Llodra quit with a thigh injury in the first set against fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Mannarino went on to shock Juan Martin Del Potro on straight sets, on tie-breaks, in a third-round match immediately afterwards.
Marin Cilic beat Thomaz Bellucci 7-6(3) 0-6 6-3 to set up a quarter-final with Murray.
"Everything felt fine," Roddick, three-times a Wimbledon runner-up to Roger Federer, said after his win. "He had some chances to break. He didn't get them. I had a couple chances and I converted. That was pretty much the story of the match."
One break of serve in each set was enough for Roddick who had too much grasscourt nous for an opponent measuring 2.03m and whose serve was a potent weapon.
Roddick's serving shoulder was also in fine fettle, however, and towards end of the match he fired two bullets down at 225 kph which augurs wells for his prospects at Wimbledon.
"It took me a while to warm it up," Roddick, a popular player in London for his all-action style and three losing Wimbledon finals, quipped when asked about his main weapon.
Murray dropped serve in the opening game of the match on centre court but hit back to break in the sixth game with a little help from a Tipsarevic double fault and a backhand that kissed the net tape to beat the bespectacled Serb.
A rain shower interrupted play with Murray leading 5-4 and after a 55-minute break, Tipsarevic returned to play a poor service game and hand Murray the set.
The second set followed the same pattern with Murray again dropping his first service game before working his way back into the set with some well-struck backhands and silky touch play.
This time it took him until the eighth game to level and despite one spectacular crosscourt winner from Tipsarevic in the tiebreaker as he sprinted back to retrieve a lob, Murray was too solid and closed out the match.
Nadal suffered a late blip against the unseeded Czech before reaching the quarter-finals amidst some show-boating from Stepanek, who at one point delighted the crowd with some push-ups after a fall.
The world number one, fresh from his record-equalling sixth French Open title, looked in total command against Stepanek as he served for the match in the second set but a rare collapse kept the Spaniard on court for longer than he wanted before he walked off with a 6-3 5-7 6-1 victory.
Nadal is usually ruthless when an opponent is on the ropes, but serving at 5-3 in the second set he wasted two match points and then threw in a double fault to give Stepanek a lifeline.
Then, at 5-5, he played another messy game and suddenly the Czech was serving for the second set, which he did in some style, levelling the match with a lunging volley.
While the crowd, some of them perched on the balconies of the rambling Victorian clubhouse, loved it, Nadal was clearly not amused and stormed through the deciding set in quick time.
Improving Murray reaches quarter-finals