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Murray hits out at condition of courts as he marches on

Andy forced to dig deep to see off threat of Fognini

By Eleanor Crooks

Andy Murray criticised the state of the Wimbledon courts after surviving a rollercoaster encounter against Fabio Fognini.

The defending champion had breezed through his opening two matches but found his title bid under serious threat amid a deafening atmosphere on Centre Court.

Fognini is a fiery character and was docked a point for obscene behaviour but had five chances to force a deciding set before Murray fought back to win 6-2 4-6 6-1 7-5.

The World No.1 now has two days to recover before facing Frenchman Benoit Paire on Monday.

The state of the courts has been criticised by several players, with Kristina Mladenovic branding Court 18 dangerous after her loss on Thursday.

Murray did not go that far but believes there is a clear difference from previous years - something denied by the All England Club.

He said: "The court I don't think is in as good a condition as previous years. There's quite a few spots on the court, just behind the baseline and just in front of the baseline, where there's quite big lumps of grass, almost like little divots.

"I don't know if it's anything to do with the weather over the last few weeks and months. It's been pretty hot, not much rain.

"But the court, when I played the first match, was great. I think it's just getting a bit beaten up early."

Fognini was much stronger in his criticism. The Italian took a medical time-out during the third set to have his right ankle and foot taped because he was concerned about aggravating heel and Achilles tendon problems.

He said: "I think the courts this year are really, really bad. But they do the best that they can. It's not their fault."

Fognini has a propensity to fluctuate wildly in form and focus. The whole match was a case in point, with Fognini going off the boil badly at the end of the first set, regrouping in the second and then switching off again in the third.

The fourth had enough drama for a whole match.

The fuse was lit in the fourth game when, having threatened a break, Fognini was given a point penalty, costing him the game, for sticking his finger in his mouth.

It was deemed an obscene gesture by umpire Damien Dumusois, who had previously warned Fognini for throwing his racket angrily to the turf.

But the incident seemed to play into the Italian's hands as he seized on nervy play from Murray to move 5-2 ahead.

Fognini had five set points across three different games but Murray saved them all, most bizarrely at 5-3 and 40-30 when Fognini stopped a point to challenge a shot he thought was long only to be told he had no challenges remaining.

With the light fading, Murray reeled off five straight games to move through to the second week for the 10th year in a row. He said: "I didn't feel like I played my best tennis. But I won and I got through it. That's a really positive thing.

"Now I've got two days to work on some things, rest up and get used to the conditions that we're playing in."

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