Andy Murray has beaten Ivan Ljubicic in four sets, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), to progress through to the last 16 of the 2011 Wimbledon tennis tournament.
It was a variable performance from the number three seed, and he knows that he will need to produce more consistent form when he meets Richard Gasquet on Monday 27th June 2011.
Nevertheless, the Scot’s brilliance shone through, especially in the third set as he fought back after just surrendering the second set.
Ljubicic, on the other hand, has never made it past this stage of Wimbledon before, a record attributed to his footwork and movement on the grass court. He gave a good account of himself, and was close to forcing the match to a fifth set.
Murray’s serving was excellent at the beginning, firing down six aces in his opening three games alone.
In the sixth game he earned himself four break points after some errors from his opponent. But Ljubicic played exceptionally well, showing some impressive volleying to eventually hold a difficult game.
Murray was to pay for the missed opportunity; broken himself to love in the very next game. A simple forehand mid-court hit the top of the net to give the advantage to the Croat.
The unpredictability of the match continued with Murray earning a break back right away after Ljubicic double faulted.
The Scot completed the turnaround thereafter. Some solid play from the back of the court sent the Croat scampering around, which helped Murray to force errors and execute winners. Ljubicic stepped it up in the second set, though. By mixing up his play he forced Murray into making more mistakes which allowed the early break.
At this point, it was Ljubicic who looked the younger and quicker out of the two. Apart from his big serve, he was continuing to come into the net and preventing Murray from getting into a rhythm.
Murray continued to plug away but paid for a faltering start. Ljubicic comfortably held out, serving to love in his final game, to tie the match at one set a piece.
It wasn’t looking good for the Briton but then he suddenly came to life. Despite a tetchy first service game, Murray raced into a 5-0 lead, including a convincing double break. Murray had stepped up the pace and Ljubicic could not live with him. Two service holds ensued to wrap up the set impressively at a 6-1 score.
Murray broke early in the fourth set, but when he had the chance to serve for the match his second serve let him down. This allowed Ljubicic tie the set up at five all.
It was a tie break (7-4) that finally allowed Murray to close out the match. The World Number 4 played well under pressure, but will need to find a more even keel to stay in with a chance of winning his first Grand Slam next week.