Andy Murray has put himself firmly among the favourites to win Wimbledon with a superb first week but he knows he will have to up his level even further if he is to reach the final at the All England Club on Sunday.
The fourth seed raced to his third straight-sets win with a 6-1 6-4 6-4 victory over Gilles Simon to set up a fourth-round clash with big-serving American Sam Querrey today.
It is all a far cry from his form going into the tournament, which consisted of only 11 wins in five months following his Australian Open final defeat by Roger Federer in January.
But Murray sounded bullish about his chances last weekend, and that has been borne out by his smooth progress while others, notably Federer and Rafael Nadal, have struggled.
The 23-year-old said: “The start's been very good and something that I needed for the confidence. But I did feel I wasn't too far away from playing very good tennis again. I just needed to put more work in, and I did that the week before. So that definitely helped me going into the tournament with my belief.
“It's obviously showed in the first few matches. But I'm going to have to play better next week if I want to go all the way.”
Asked about Federer and Nadal's form in the opening rounds, Murray said: “It's kind of irrelevant. It's different obviously if they lose the matches but when they come through, you are always expecting them to play well, and they will next week, that is for sure.
“They always play their best towards the latter stages of the tournament and in the matches I have watched, their opponents have played incredibly well. Sometimes people don't give enough credit to the opponents and just look at Federer and Nadal's form.
“I saw a little bit of Federer's match with (Alejandro) Falla and some of the second-round match and the opponents played really, really good tennis.
“It is the same with Rafa — tennis is so deep now and so strong that those guys are going to come up and play some great tennis.”
Murray is playing his best tennis since that fortnight in Melbourne at the start of the year, when he thought he was on the verge of his first grand slam title only for Federer to pull out a performance that only he can to pick up his 16th major crown.
The Scot, though, has been reluctant to compare the two experiences, saying: “At the Australian Open I played very well from the first match. There's different feelings going into both tournaments. In terms of the way the week's gone, it's been great. And I'll try to build on that.”
Federer and Rafael Nadal are also in action on day seven.
Federer will play Austrian 16th seed Jurgen Melzer in the opening match on Centre Court while Nadal is up against Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in the third match on Court One.
Andy Roddick will meet Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu in the third match out on Court Two.