Andy Murray advances into round four at Wimbledon with an assured straight sets victory over John Millman on Centre Court
- Andy Murray produced another impressive display to beat John Millman
- The No 2 seed recorded victory in straight sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-2
- Murray could face Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon
Down below them on Centre Court, Andy Murray was close to going two sets up against the Australian, John Millman. It was a competitive match but Murray was cruising.
On that screen that Beckham was watching, though, something astonishing was happening over on Number One Court: the roadblock standing between Murray and another Wimbledon title was being dismantled and carried away.
Andy Murray beat John Millman to advance into round four at Wimbledon on Saturday
The British No 1 has a great chance to win Wimbledon for the second time with Novak Djokovic out
Murray started at an impressive pace and took the first set against Millman 6-3 on Centre Court
David Beckham (centre) and Billy Jean King glimpse the mobile phone showing Djokovic losing
A couple of hundred yards away, across the outside courts where doubles matches were unfolding in late afternoon sunshine, the greatest shock of this tennis year and many others besides was unfolding in front of a disbelieving crowd.
Novak Djokovic, the most dominant force in men’s tennis since Rod Laver, was up against big-serving American Sam Querrey and struggling desperately to stay in the tournament he won last year and which he was hot favourite to win again
The footage on the phone played out. Djokovic, who has won the last four Grand Slams and six of the last eight, went match point down in the fourth set tie-break and, after a brief rally, the world number one mistimed a forehand and hit it wide into the tramlines. Querrey leapt into the air and Djokovic’s hopes of winning a calendar Grand Slam lay in ruins.
On Centre Court, Murray, who has lost to Djokovic in three of the last six grand slam finals, sat down for a changeover, leading 5-4, and the organisers flashed the news of Djokovic’s loss on to the big screen. The crowd cheered enthusiastically. Murray said later he thought about Djokovic’s defeat for ’10 to 15 seconds’. His expression did not change. His mother’s did, though. When she saw the result, Judy Murray broke into a broad grin.
The Australian Millman dug deep during the second set and managed to cause Murray more problems
But Murray eventually secured the second set 7-5, much to the delight of his ardent fans at SW19
Kim Murray watches on from under an umbrella as Murray battles for a place in the fourth round at Wimbledon
Murray hits a serve to Millman during his third round encounter against Millman at Wimbledon
It might only have been the middle Saturday of the tournament but everybody at the All England Club knew that Murray had moved significantly closer to winning the second Wimbledon title of his career. There is still the small matter of the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer, standing in his way if both men reach the final but the absence of Djokovic is a huge boost to his chances of winning a third Grand Slam.
It would be wrong to take anything for granted. Murray has never beaten Federer on grass and lost to him in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year. But much seems to be working in Murray’s favour as he pursues another Wimbledon championship to go with the one he won by beating Djokovic in the final in 2013.
The return of Ivan Lendl, the coach who helped him to his previous two Grand Slam victories, now looks particularly propitious. Lendl, as lugubrious as ever, sat impassively in Murray’s box as events unfolded. The bookmakers were more animated. They made Murray the new favourite to win the tournament.
Murray could face Australian Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round at Wimbledon after Saturday's win
Stan Wawrinka, his prospective semi-final opponent, is already out. Federer and Milos Raonic, the man he beat in the final at Queen’s last month, are in the other half of the draw. Of course there will be big challenges ahead, not least a likely clash with another Australian, Nick Kyrgios, on Monday but, still, the exit of Djokovic has changed the mood of the tournament.
‘The bookies don’t always get it right,’ Murray said with a smile after the match. ‘They have made a number of mistakes over the last few weeks over a number of different things. If I were to make the final, it might have a bearing on my tournament but not right now. My draw is exactly the same.
‘I have tough guys left in my half of the draw, especially the next round. Novak’s run has been amazing. What he’s done in the last 12 to 18 months, I don’t think we’ll see for a long long time. It’s something we should be celebrating. It is probably the best 12 months anyone has had in tennis for years.’
Murray's strong display against Millman will boost his confidence further ahead of the second week
Millman loses his footing and falls to the floor in a rally with Murray during the third set but was unhurt
After the Serb’s defeat had been confirmed, Murray immediately provided a rebuke to those of us thinking too far ahead by being broken by Millman. The scores level at 5-5, the two men then indulged in a mammoth struggle for the eleventh game as Millman battled to hold his serve.
The Australian saved four break points but Murray won the fifth and then closed out the set 7-5. Millman’s resistance was broken. Murray won the third set 6-2, sealing his victory with a sliced ace wide to Millman’s forehand, to ease through to the fourth round in 2hrs 10mins. He is yet to drop a set in the tournament.
Murray was only truly extended for brief periods of the match but he still managed to look impressively assured against Millman. His first serve was not firing properly and he made plenty of unforced errors but he looked like a man doing only what he had to do against the Australian baseliner, even if he also had to contend with some frustrating weather delays.
Murray celebrates in front of a packed out Centre Court after sealing victory over Millman
His afternoon had started with an absurdist English dance. For some reason, just as Murray and Millman were about to appear, the tournament organisers decided to open the Centre Court roof in the midst of a showery summer’s day. It took 15 minutes to open it at which point it promptly began to rain. The covers came on. And then came off.
The whole fandango was repeated at the start of the second set, after Murray had taken the first. Entirely predictably, it began to rain again. The covers were dragged on again as the crowd struggled to contain its irritation. The players came on and off once more and there was another lengthy delay before, finally, the roof was closed.
The delays could not overshadow the brilliance of some of Murray’s shot-making, though. Millman is the world number 67 but Murray made him look desperately ordinary in the opening exchanges. He broke the Australian to 15 in his first service game, including one exquisite top-spin lob winner that his opponent did not even bother to chase.
He dashed through the first set, illuminating its final game with a dreamy, floated forehand drop shot that Millman set off to hunt down but then thought better of it. By then, Wimbledon was starting to turn its attention to Number One Court and the demise of the champion. After so many heartbreaking defeats at the hands of the Serb and Federer now in his 35th year, Murray knows he will never have a better chance of winning Wimbledon again.