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Murray passes Karlovic test to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

Discussion in 'Sports' started by PurpleFox, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. Andy Murray was under no illusions as to the difficulty of the challenge he faced on Centre Court on Monday, but it was another test passed, as he neutralised the threat of Ivo Karlovic to pick him off over four tight sets for a place in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

    The world No. 3 had never lost to Karlovic in five previous meetings, but Murray was forced to be patient and find his way past the big-serving, 6-foot-11 Croatian. Murray eventually scrapped his way to a 7-6 (7), 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 victory, in 3 hours, 3 minutes.

    Karlovic had served 136 combined aces in three matches last week; he also set a new record of 45 in one best-of-three-sets contest at Halle. At the All England Club, he hit 12 aces overall in the first set, and a couple of the middle-line judges on Centre Court got a personal taste of just how hard he smashes them; the fastest was 134 mph in his very first service game. But Murray's game plan -- waiting for second-serve chances and hitting returns into Karlovic's feet -- was enough to counter that pace and power.

    Keeping his cool: Murray looked up at his box in frustration when early chances went begging, but he had to settle quickly for an inevitable tiebreaker in the first set. All three sets Karlovic had won against Murray in the past came via tiebreakers, including one in the second round of Wimbledon three years ago. Twice on set point, Murray dumped a first serve into the net. The first time, Karlovic belted a poor second serve past him. The next, Karlovic fired long and Murray let out a prolonged, almighty roar with both fists clenched, as he took the first set after 57 minutes. After all that effort in the opener, the Croatian hit his first double fault of the match, and Murray needed only two minutes to break the Karlovic serve in the second set. He began to find his rhythm, and this time it took him only 36 minutes to win the set.

    Concentration: Murray knew he had to be clinical. But he is guilty of losing his focus too often -- and this time such a lapse came at just the wrong moment. He only made six unforced errors to Karlovic's 25 throughout the first three sets, but the last of those was so costly. Serving to force another tiebreaker, he offered up a set point by dumping a return into the net, before sending a forehand long. It was all that Karlovic deserved -- he was more aggressive in the set, hitting 26 winners to Murray's 12. Both players managed to bring up just two break points each in the third -- Murray took neither of his, while Karlovic won his second on set point.

    You shall not pass: Murray is considered one of the best, if not the best, in the game at returning, and that is precisely what got him through here. He knew he had to take advantage of every second serve, which Karlovic still hits with frightening pace; Murray simply had to get it back as often as he could. Karlovic has more to his game than just a big serve, though, and is excellent at the net, so Murray's passing shots had to be on point. He kept them low, out of his opponent's reach, and executed a series of exquisite lobs, mightily impressive given Karlovic's height. On break point at 2-1 up in the fourth, an excellent return saw Karlovic put the ball 2 millimeters wide after Murray successfully challenged. Murray then saved two break points in his next service game before consolidating with a huge hold. Fine margins.

    Consistency: Karlovic managed to save one match point by digging out a truly brilliant half-volley return, aimed right at Murray's feet, before holding to force the Scot to serve out the match. With the victory, Murray booked his 18th consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. He will face Vasek Pospisil, the world No. 56 who has already dispâtched one Briton, James Ward, at these Championships and duly knocked out 22-seed Viktor Troicki earlier on Monday. But Murray has a 3-0 head-to-head record against Pospisil and will fancy his chances of reaching the last four, where he will likely face seven-time Wimbledon winner Roger Federer.
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