WIMBLEDON, England—Is Andy Murray ready for his close-up? As far as rehearsals go, today’s climate-controlled third-rounder provided a nice test, even if it was against the lowest seed in the draw, Tommy Robredo. Murray was far and away the biggest men’s name on today’s schedule, and for the first two sets had the entire All England Club watching his every motion, with rain preventing play on other courts. That’s hardly a new phenomenon for Murray, but Centre Court looked even more packed than usual today; spotting even a single empty seat was a challenge.
Robredo faced a more physically demanding exercise, one he did not pass, to the score of 6-2, 6-4, 7-5. Murray is second to no one on tour in terms of strength, and he imposed himself on Robredo with some exceptionally hard-hit shots, the roof amplifying their sound to match their fury. Then there is Robredo’s style—arresting, but far from efficient. The 31-year-old takes generous swings to generate the loads of topspin on his forehands and backhands, and covers a fair distance at full speed to run around his picturesque one-hander.
When he did this late in the second set, and then cracked a forehand as hard as he could hit one, Murray took a few steps, instinctively positioned his racquet, and deflected the ball back for a clean winner.
That point was emblematic of the match, a match-up of flair versus force. It was a one-sided battle early on, with Murray sprinting to a 4-1, double-break lead. But Robredo quickly found the form that’s helped resurrect him from outside the Top 400—he was the 470th-ranked player in the world as recently as last May—back inside the Top 30. To start, he clamped down on his serve, giving Murray just three break points through the final two sets (the Scot was even better, giving Robredo just one in that same span). He also gave the capacity crowd a show with acutely angled groundstrokes, drawing Murray off the baseline and into some all-court exchanges. To his credit, Murray was sharp at net, winning 20 of 28 points.
More often than not, though, Murray was able to hold his ground and build winning points at the baseline, his preferred residence in SW19. Both an irresistible force and immoveable object, Murray made his break in the first game of the second set stand up with methodical holds, and closed out the match shortly after breaking again at 5-5 in the third.
By all accounts, it was a relatively comfortable win against a quality opponent—Murray himself said it was the best match he’s played so far this tournament. But we’re talking about Andy Murray at Wimbledon, so it’s not that simple. Leading 3-1 in the second set, Murray pushed a backhand into net on the first point of Robredo’s service game. “C’mon, Andy!” a fan barked with disdain.
Just another part of the dry run.
IBM is a proud sponsor and official technology partner for Wimbledon. For more information on this match, including the Keys to the Match, visit IBM's SlamTracker.