Andy Murray is within two victories of becoming the first Briton to play in a Wimbledon final for 74 years and has no higher-ranked players left in his half of the draw, but the 25-year-old Scot refused last night to look beyond his next match. Having completed an emphatic 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Marin Cilic yesterday, Murray faces David Ferrer in today's quarter-finals on Centre Court.
"It's so far away," Murray said when asked what it would mean to lift the trophy on Sunday. "I'm playing against the No 5 player in the world in my next match and I lost against him a few weeks ago at the French Open."
Murray, who is through to the quarter-finals here for the fifth year in succession (a record bettered currently only by Roger Federer's 10-year run) believes that Ferrer has never played better than this year. In his last six tournaments the 30-year-old Spaniard has lost only to Federer and Rafael Nadal. Ferrer won his first grass-court title in the Netherlands last month and reached the quarter-finals here for the first time in 10 attempts by beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 yesterday.
Despite his occasional Mr Angry impressions on court, Murray is usually too much of a gentleman to interrupt his questioners, but he stopped a Spanish journalist in mid-sentence when he described Ferrer as a clay-court specialist.
"He's a clay-court specialist?" Murray said. "No, he's not. To me he's not a clay-court specialist. He won last week on grass. He's won [nine] matches in a row on the grass ... I don't see him as a clay-court specialist at all."
The Scot, nevertheless, will be the firm favourite to win and reach the semi-finals for the fourth year in a row. With Nadal, who has beaten him in the semi-finals for the last two years, out of the tournament, the prize for today's winner will be a meeting in the last four with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (world No 6) or Philipp Kohlschreiber (world No 30).
Ferrer has won all four of his meetings with Murray on clay, but the only time the Spaniard has beaten him on any other surface was at last year's Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London, when the world No 4 had a groin injury and subsequently had to withdraw from the tournament.
The Spaniard, who was already on top of Del Potro when the Argentine hurt his knee in a fall near the end of yesterday's first set, agreed that Murray was the favourite, but added: "Maybe he has more pressure than me because he is playing in his home country. Sometimes that is not easy."
However, there were no signs of any such pressure as Murray completed an emphatic victory over Cilic. The two men returned to Court One with Murray leading 3-1 in the second set, the fourth-round match having been called off the previous evening because of rain. There were two more rain breaks but Murray remained in control throughout.
The Scot had fallen several times against Marcos Baghdatis on Saturday, but on this occasion his footwork and movement were exceptional, despite the fact that there was light drizzle for much of the match. Murray wore the same new shoes which had helped him after he had come off court mid-match against Baghdatis while the Centre Court roof was closed.
Murray's serve was even more impressive. He hit 16 aces at speeds of up to 134mph and maintained his record as the player in the tournament who has won the highest percentage of points on his second serve.
Even Murray's coach, the normally stone-faced Ivan Lendl, applauded when a superb backhand set up break point in the second set, which the Scot converted. Cilic upped his game in the third, but Murray broke to lead 3-1 with a wonderful running forehand pass and then served out for victory.
Following the controversial decision to put the match on Court One on Monday when bad weather was forecast, Murray refused to criticise All England Club officials for not favouring him in their scheduling.
"I don't think you should get preferential treatment," he said. "All of the players would say they would rather play on Centre because they know they're going to finish their match. I don't deserve to play all my matches on Centre Court. Someone like Roger does. I don't think just because you're from that country you should get preferential treatment, but I hope I play my next few matches on Centre."
Head to head: Murray v Ferrer
2012 French Open QF (clay) Ferrer won 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2
2011 ATP World Tour Finals RR, London (hard) Ferrer won 6-4, 7-5
2011 ATP World Tour Masters Final, Shanghai (hard) Murray 7-5, 6-4
2011 Japan Open SF, Tokyo (hard) Murray won 6-2, 6-3
2011 Australian Open SF (hard) Murray won 4-6, 7-6, 6-1, 7-6,
2010 ATP World Tour Finals RR, London (hard) Murray won 6-2, 6-2
2010 ATP World Tour QF, Madrid (clay) Ferrer won 7-5, 6-3
2010 ATP World Tour, Rome (clay) Ferrer won 6-3, 6-4
2006 ATP Masters, Toronto (hard) Murray won 6-2, 7-6
2006 Barcelona Open (clay) Ferrer won 4-6, 7-6, 6-1