With Andy Murray just one win away from a tenth consecutive Wimbledon quarter-final, compatriot Johanna Konta goes into today’s fourth round breaking new ground in SW19.
Murray, who came through his seemingly mandatory annual Wimbledon scare at dusk against Fabio Fognini on Friday night, faces another unpredictable opponent in Benoit Paire second on Centre Court.
The Frenchman, ranked 46 in the world and unseeded at the Championships, beat the big-serving Pole Jerzy Janowicz in straight sets on Friday and Murray knows he faces another stern test to make it a decade of quarter-final appearances.
“He again has a different game to a lot of the guys now. He has very good hands, moves well, takes a lot of chances, goes for his shots,” said the 30-year-old Scot.
“Again, he can be quite up and down. But he seems to have played pretty well so far at this event. And, yeah, I expect that to be tricky.
“I’ve never played him on the grass before. I think until this year he hasn’t played so well on the grass himself.
“But, again, I see no reason why he can’t play good grass-court tennis. I think I only played him once before, and it was a really tight match.”
That one previous match between the pair came on the clay at last year’s Monte Carlo Masters, again in the round of 16.
Murray prevailed that day, but not before losing the first set, and today’s match will once again prove a test of the Dunblane man’s movement around Centre Court – where he appeared to be struggling somewhat on Friday.
However, the defending champion once again played down any fears over his fitness and made the most of his weekend off.
“I think physically I certainly could have played a fifth set if it was required. I mean, I finished very strong actually in the end. So did okay physically at the end,” he said on the match against Fognini.
The second week of Wimbledon is uncharted territory for Konta and her achievements here mark just the fourth time she has made the fourth round of a Grand Slam.
She will take confidence from her run to the Australian Open semi-final 18 months ago, but in Caroline Garcia she also faces a hugely talented French player today.
“She’s a very good player. She’s someone who is playing with a lot of confidence right now. I think she made the last eight in Paris, as well,” said Konta.
“She’s definitely playing with confidence in the Slams. I think it’s going to be a very tough match. We played in Indian Wells. I lost to her I think 7-6 in the third there, so it was a very close match.
“I don’t anticipate anything different, other than a really, really tough battle for me.”
The pair have faced off four times in their careers, with honours currently even in the head to head record – and Konta was reluctant to play up her chances of reaching a first Wimbledon quarter-final, despite her apparent good form.
“I think I’m playing some good tennis. I don’t think I’m playing unbelievable tennis,” said the 26-year-old.
“I think I’m playing, I guess, with the mindset of just trying to get better, like I have done every other match I’ve played in my career, every other tournament I’ve played as well.
“I don’t think there’s anything different that’s happening.”
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