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Wimbledon: Andy Murray delighted to march on with no injury concerns

 

By Paul Newman

The dreadlocked German went the same way as the rap-loving Russian as Andy Murray left another of the more flamboyant players in the men's game in his wake.

Forty-eight hours after disposing of Alexander Bublik, the world No 1 brushed aside the challenge of Dustin Brown, winning 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to secure a third-round meeting with yet another entertainer, Italy's Fabio Fognini.

Murray has always reached the last 32 or better at the All England Club and never looked in danger of spoiling that record. He showed few signs of any physical discomfort following the hip injury which had disrupted his preparations for Wimbledon and was rarely in difficulty against a highly unpredictable opponent.

Thanks to his net rushes, slices, drop shots and thunderous ground strokes, Brown can upset the rhythm of many players, but Murray read the 32-year-old German's game with increasing ease, held his serve comfortably and delivered a thoroughly professional performance.

With Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Aljaz Bedene also winning, Britain will have four players in the third round of the singles here for the first time in 20 years. Kyle Edmund will attempt to take that to five when he faces Gael Monfils today.

Brown, who beat Rafael Nadal here two years ago, hits more drop shots than probably any other player, can strike the ball with great power and frequently unsettles opponents with his rushes to the net. However, by the time Murray had settled into his stride towards the end of the first set the Scot played with increasing confidence.

"Once I got the break in the first set I felt the momentum was with me," Murray said.

"I was starting to see the shots he was going to play a little bit quicker and that allowed me to get to some of the drop volleys and also come up with some good passing shots."

Murray said his hip had not been a problem. "I've moved well," he said. "In the first couple of matches it hasn't affected me and I've been getting good practices in. I feel good. Hopefully it stays that way."

Although the match was the second of the day on Centre Court it did not start until 4.39pm after Konta's marathon three-hour victory over Donna Vekic. The temperature was 29C as the sun shone down from a clear blue sky on a perfect afternoon. It was hot enough for Murray to drape ice towels around his neck at changeovers.

Brown saved a break point at 2-3, but at 3-4 the German lost his serve on a double fault and Murray served out for the opening set after just 35 minutes.

By the middle of the second set the Scot was firmly in control. Reading his opponent's drop shots with increasing ease, Murray won four games in a row from 2-2 to take the second set in just 31 minutes.

After yet another break Murray served out for the match, completing the job with a service winner after only 96 minutes.

Murray said he could not remember a tournament where he has met three such flamboyant players in his first three matches.

"In the first two it was difficult to come up with game plans, because you don't know exactly how the two guys are going to play," he said.

"Although Fabio has been a better player over the years than the two guys I played in my first two matches, it's maybe easier to come up with a game plan because there will be a bit more structure and strategy in the match."

Fognini, who beat the Czech Republic's Jiri Vesely 7-6, 6-4, 6-2 to reach the third round, won his most recent meeting with Murray on his favourite surface of clay in Rome two months ago, but on grass the Scot will be the clear favourite.

"It's Wimbledon," Fognini said. "It's home for him. It's best-of-five. He's the defending champion. So it's going to be really tough, for sure. He's the favourite, but I think I have the game to play against him, hopefully to play my best tennis another time, try to complicate his life on court."

Murray said that Fognini was "always dangerous". He added: "He's a shot-maker and he's very solid off his forehand and backhand side, but he can also hit winners from both sides.

"A lot of guys maybe have a big forehand and are maybe more consistent on the opposite wing, whereas Fabio can hit winners off both sides. He has good hands up at the net."

Rafael Nadal (left) marched into the third round with a competitive straight sets win over American Donald Young. Nadal looked just as strong as he did against John Millman in the first round and beat Young 6-4, 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal has been victim to a series of giant-killings over the past few years, going out three times to players from outside the top 100, but there has been no sign of that this year.

Nadal had too much for Young and will now be in the third round for the first time since 2014 and only the second time since 2011.

Belfast Telegraph

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