Murray breaks time barrier

Knocks Baghdatis out as match extends two minutes past mandatory 11 pm deadline

Written by Agencies | London | Published: July 2, 2012 3:48 am

Laying face-down for a postmatch massage as midnight approached,Andy Murray was thrilled he managed to complete his third-round victory at Wimbledon on Saturday night. Because otherwise,he and Marcos Baghdatis would have had to come back Monday — when everyone is supposed to be playing in the fourth round.

With the Centre Court roof closed and the lights on,Murray wrapped up his 7-5 3-6 7-5 6-1 win over Baghdatis at 11:02 p.m local time,four minutes past the latest previous finish at the All England Club. The deadline for stopping play under the roof is 11 p.m.,but the match was allowed to continue while Murray served it out at love in the final game. “I was under the impression I was stopping at 11,regardless of what the score was — even if it was in the middle of a game,’’ Murray said,speaking to a handful of reporters. “Glad that I managed to get to the finish.’’

While some fans cheered raucously with each point Murray won in the final stages,hoping he will become the first British male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936,others shushed them,worried that too many delays because of noise might push play too late.

Did the time issue bother him down the stretch? “If the set had been tighter,it would have been distracting,’’ Murray said,“but because the momentum was kind of with me,I just wanted to keep it going and play fairly quickly. Whereas for him,it would have been better to slow it down a little bit.”

There is no play scheduled on tournament’s middle Sunday,so had he not concluded his victory,it would have been a long wait to resume. Plus,the winner would have been at a disadvantage as Week 2 progressed.

Instead,the fourth-seeded Murray will be out there for a fourth-round match Monday,just like everyone else,facing 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. Memories of John Isner and Nicolas Mahut’s marathon tussle came flooding back when Cilic staggered past Sam Querrey 7-6 6-4 6-7 6-7 17-15 in fading light to win the second longest ever match here.

Cilic’s marathon five-setter

Two years after American Isner won an 11 hour five minute duel,which featured 183 games and ended 70-68 in the fifth set,a similar battle played out on Court Two with Saturday’s protagonists going toe-to-toe for more than two hours in the fifth set alone.

But at five hours 31 minutes,Croatia’s Cilic achieved his third-round win in less than half the time it took Isner to put away Mahut in 2010. After missing a chance to close out the match at 6-5 in the fifth,Cilic was kept on court for another 21 games as dusk fell over south west London,bad light threatened to stop the players in their tracks.

But just as it seemed the duo would have to return on Monday to complete unfinished business Cilic broke for a 16-15 lead.

The Croatian brought up matchpoint after watching an exhausted Querrey drag the ball long to end a 29-stroke rally and yelled out in triumph when the American overcooked a backhand service return. After giving the fans who had stuck around for the conclusion a thumbs-up,Cilic trudged off court knowing he will have 48 hours to recover before he faces Murray for a place in the quarter-finals.

“Big drama,especially in that fifth set. It was a really big mental battle this game,” said Cilic,whose Queen’s Club triumph this month was overshadowed by David Nalbandian’s umpire-kicking antics. “I’m really happy with the way I stayed in the match. It wasn’t easy to be focused all the time. I was serving extremely well and was really having trouble with the returns. But I’m big time glad I came throughm” Cilic said.

“It will be important for me to try to get off to a good start in the match against him,’’ said Murray,who is 5-1 against Cilic. “If you are feeling a little bit tired and you go behind,it can be tough to come back.’’

Monday’s showpieces

Roger Federer vs Xavier Malisse; Ana Ivanovic vs Victoria Azarenka; Novak Djokovic vs Viktor Troicki; Maria Sharapova vs Sabine Lisicki; David Ferrer vs Juan Martin del Potro; Serena Williams vs Yaroslava Shvedova

For all the latest News Archive News, download Indian Express App

    Live Cricket Scores & Results