Andy Murray beats Ivo Karlovic to reach Wimbledon last eight
Scotland's Andy Murray overcame a giant obstacle to keep his dream of a second Wimbledon title alive as he battled into the quarter-finals.
The 28-year-old needed three hours and three minutes to beat 6ft 10in Ivo Karlovic, the tallest player on the men's tour.
Karlovic's 136 aces put him top of the tournament leaderboard at the start of play but, while the 6ft 11in Croatian added another 29 to his tally, precision won over power as Murray sealed a 7-6 (9/7) 6-4 5-7 6-4 victory.
"It was an incredibly difficult match," Murray told the BBC.
"It was tiring, it's not so physically difficult because the points are quick but it's mentally tiring and you have to ready when the chance comes."
A place in the semi-finals now rests on Murray beating Canada's Vasek Pospisil, who knocked out Britain's James Ward in round three.
"He had a close one with James Ward and came back from two sets down today," Murray said.
"He'll be tired, but very confident, with a couple of comebacks he'll be feeling good about his game and he has a game that suits the grass with a big serve, so it'll be a tough match."
Murray had never lost to Karlovic in five past meetings, but the world number 25, who takes a size 16 shoe, knocked out two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round three and remains a daunting opponent on grass.
The statistics pointed to a clash of serve versus return with Karlovic enjoying the highest percentage of first-serve points won in the tournament, while Murray boasted the highest percentage of return games won and the most points taken against opponents' first serve.
The British number one predicted his opportunities to crack Karlovic would be few and far between, but a break point arrived in the very first game as Murray looked to catch his opponent cold.
The chance went begging, however, and Karlovic, to a chorus of gasps and whistles from the Wimbledon crowd, made his mark with two aces and a 134mph rocket.
Between the Croatian's one-shot whoppers, one of which clocked a helpless line judge on the head, Murray was able to dictate the rallies and the Scot was frustrated by almost any point he lost which lasted longer than two shots.
Three more break point opportunities came just at the right time for Murray as he led 5-4 and then 6-5, but on each occasion Karlovic served his way out of trouble to force the tie-break.
The Croatian assumed a commanding position when he pulled 4-2 clear, but Murray came storming back and, after 57 minutes, converted his seventh set point at 8-7 when a Karlovic forehand flew long.
Buoyed by his advantage, Murray began to loosen up and some brilliant returning gave him an instant break in the second set as Karlovic began to flounder in the face of his opponent's subtle shot-making.
Two more break points came and went for Murray in the seventh game, but Karlovic rarely threatened and the Scot served out to love to clinch the second set.
The 36-year-old refused to lie down, however, and his chip and charge tactics kept the pressure on Murray, who was forced to serve for a tie-break in the third as he trailed 6-5.
A broken string from a first serve created a delay in play at 30-30 and Karlovic pounced to seal the set 7-5 as Murray hit a sloppy backhand into the net.
Centre Court fell flat at the prospect of another set of boom-and-bust, but Murray maintained his composure and in the seventh game seized the decisive break.
The Briton did brilliantly to retrieve another thundering Karlovic serve, but the Croatian's winning volley looked to have caught the line before, to the surprise of both players, an optimistic challenge fell in Murray's favour.
Karlovic dug deep to hold one more time but he could not prevent his opponent serving out as Murray sailed through to his 18th consecutive grand slam quarter-final.
Murray described the match against the Croation as "mentally tiring", and will face Vasek Pospisil in the next round.
Murray's wife Kim, comedian Michael McIntyre and a clutch of top golfers including Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter were at Centre Court to support him.
Pippa Middleton was spotted at SW19 wearing a floral print dress and wedges, a day after her niece Princess Charlotte was christened.
Celebrities also graced Serena Williams's toe-to-toe battle with older sister Venus.
All Of Me singer John Legend, 36, posed for a courtside Instagram picture with his model girlfriend Chrissy Teigen.
Teigen, 29, showed off her legs in a knitted number in cream, red and black with heels.
Canadian rapper Drake was also back among Serena's entourage after he was spotted at the All England Club last week.
After progressing to the quarter-finals, she said: "It's been six years since we played each other. I just really was enjoying the moment out there.
"It was such a great vibe, such a great situation to be in, when we were both so young and dreaming of coming to Wimbledon."
Earlier in the day temperamental Nick Kyrgios crashed out of the tournament after appearing to throw an entire game in protest at receiving yet another warning for his antics.
It came after he was slapped with a code violation for swearing during his last-16 match against France's Richard Gasquet.
The 20-year-old Australian spent the next game refusing to play the ball, with BBC presenter Sue Barker commenting: "I have never seen anything like it at Wimbledon."
He was later involved in a spat with British umpire James Keothavong - the brother of former player Anne Keothavong - as he took time to change his socks between games.
"Mate, Rafa (Rafael Nadal) and stuff play 30 seconds in between points every time and all I'm doing is putting my sock back on," he told the official.
Gasquet also had an outburst after the third set which saw him smash his racquet when he let two match points slip.
Kyrgios could face a hefty fine of up to 20,000 US dollars (£12,860) if he is judged to have thrown a game.
His winnings for reaching the fourth round in the men's singles come to £127,000.
After the match his mother Nill tweeted: "You fought hard little fella. Just remember adversity is the building blocks for success, learn from them and grow."
Wimbledon great Roger Federer progressed to the next round as he tries to take his tally of titles at the All England Club to a record eight.
Reporters were told to "stick to tennis questions" after Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki was asked about an ankle injury suffered by her golf champion ex-fiance Rory McIlroy.
The BBC announced today that it was changing the format of its revamped Wimbledon 2Day highlights show after it was panned by critics and viewers.
From this evening the BBC2 programme, hosted by Clare Balding, will move to a studio above Centre Court and its live audience will be axed.
Questions were raised after the round-up show was broadcast last week from a studio in the private members' Gatsby Club, close to Wimbledon, which was hired for an undisclosed fee.
Viewers also criticised the programme's informal style, with some comparing it to satirical comedy W1A.
The All England Club confirmed that it would observe the minute's silence to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the London 7/7 bombings tomorrow at 11.30am.
A spokesman said: "Play on all courts, except Centre Court and No 1 Court, will start at 11.45am instead of 11am."
Centre Court and Court 1 usually start play at 1pm.
It comes after an emotional minute's silence was held at midday on Friday in memory of the victims of the Tunisia beach massacre.
Belfast Telegraph Digital