Relentless and relaxed would be appropriate words to sum up Andy Murray’s Wimbledon title defence after one week at the All England Club.
No pressure, no worries, no problems and no dramas. It’s just so good, so far following a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 third round victory over Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, the No. 27 seed.
Murray has yet to drop a set and has taken just 74 games to progress to the fourth round – compared to 87 games one year ago.
And he remains a picture of consistency at the All England Club; he’s the only player here that has reached the second week in each year since 2008.
It was a tougher challenge than his previous walkover against Blaz Rola against a player who could establish himself in the world’s top ten, if he just had a bit more self belief.
However, Murray dominated the statistics, moving well and striking the ball cleanly. In three matches he’s been broken only once and that’s an ominous statistic at this level, the sort of crushing superiority that used to mark Roger Federer’s early round matches on these manicured lawns.
He fired down 11 aces and won 35 out of 40 points on first serve to continue a run of Grand Slam fourth round appearances that dates back to the 2010 US Open. Bautista Agut is not a household name but he is having the best season of his career and last week won a title on grass in The Netherlands. But his early resistance soon proved futile and it was all over in one hour and 36 minutes.
“There were a lot of close games and it’s good to get it done in straight sets,” said Murray.
“He’s the best opponent I’ve played so far, and as a step up I felt I responded well. There’s a few things I could improve on but it’s a good first week.
“He’s won a lot of matches lately, he won on the grass and he’s made a lot improvements. There were a lot of close games and it’s good to get it done in straight sets.
“He’s the best opponent I’ve played so far and as a step up I felt I responded well. There’s a few things I could improve on but it’s a good first week. I had enough long matches in the French Open to get me physically ready.”
But on this sort of form it’s going to take some performance to eclipse Murray here, with the prospect of a semi-final with Novak Djokovic becoming more and more mouthwatering with each passing round.
But Murray joked he’s not having it all his own way – his family preferred to watch brother Jamie and partner John Peers in their 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 second round doubles win over Jamie Delgado and Gilles Muller.
“It’s a shame we were on at the same time because none of my family came to watch me. I am obviously number two son,” he joked. “The support at Wimbledon is always intense but once I get out on the court I really enjoy it. I try to avoid it away from the court but on the court it’s great, the atmosphere has been great, it gives me a big lift and I am going to need it as the tournament goes on.”
Next up is South Africa’s Kevin Anderson, a player who beat Murray 6-3, 6-1 in their last meeting three years ago in Canada.
But that was on a hard court in Montreal, here at Wimbledon the prospect of a rematch should give the world No. 18 a few sleepless nights this weekend.
“Kevin will be a tough opponent,” insisted Murray, playing the game as well off the court as he does on it. He’s playing the best tennis of his career, he’s made some improvements this year. He’s a big guy with a big game so I need to be sharp and return well if I want to win.”
Meanwhile, Scots Jocelyn Rae and Colin Fleming progressed to the second round of the mixed doubles with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Scott Lipsky and Jie Zheng – winning over 70 percent of their first serve points in a dominant performance, with success secured in just over an hour.
• As the Official Banking Partner of The Championships, HSBC is helping fans get closer to Wimbledon by giving them the chance to win Centre Court tickets. For further information, visit www.wimbledon.com/hsbc