World No. 4 Andy Murray ignored the fuss over his Centre Court snub to sweep into the Wimbledon quarter-finals with a ruthless 7-5, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Croatia’s Marin Cilic yesterday.
With rain disrupting the second week, Wimbledon officials provoked howls of criticism after scheduling home favorite Murray on Court One rather than the covered Centre Court.
That meant Murray, bidding to end Britain’s 76-year wait for a men’s singles champion at Wimbledon, was forced to endure several rain interruptions on Monday, while his title rivals Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer coasted through under the Centre Court roof.
Murray had to wait until yesterday afternoon before he was finally able to finish off Cilic in between more showers and the 25-year-old is scheduled to be back in action against Spain’s David Ferrer in the quarter-finals today.
“I honestly don’t care which court I play on. It makes no difference, but obviously every player would rather be on Centre Court because you know you are going to get your match in, regardless of the weather,” Murray said. “I haven’t always dealt with rain delays that well in the past, so it’s good experience for me.”
Rafael Nadal’s shock exit last week has given Murray, beaten in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the past three years, a golden opportunity to become the first British men’s finalist at the All England Lawn Tennis Club since Bunny Austin in 1938.
It helped Murray’s cause that Cilic had to survive the second-longest match in the tournament’s history to get past Sam Querrey in the previous round.
That 5 hour, 31 minute epic appeared to have left the 16th seed a spent force and when play was suspended due to rain on Monday afternoon, Murray had taken a firm grip with a 7-5, 3-1 lead.
Despite the scheduling storm, Wimbledon chiefs stuck to their guns and Murray was back on Court One yesterday for an earlier than usual midday start under ominous gray skies.
Murray led 40-0 on his serve from the previous evening and he quickly finished off the game as drizzle began to fall again.
Cilic then held serve before the rain sent the players scurrying from the court for a delay of more than an hour, but Murray emerged to take the second set with another break.
Even when Murray faced four break points in the first game of the third set, he produced a perfectly placed ace on each occasion to get out of trouble.
Murray landed the knockout blow in the fourth game when he unleashed a superb passing shot down the line to break for a 3-1 lead that sealed his place in the quarter-finals.
Ferrer reached the quarter-finals by beating No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 on Centre Court.
Ferrer saved all four break points he faced while eliminating the 2009 US Open champion.
Philipp Kohlschreiber made it into the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam for the first time, ending US qualifier Brian Baker’s fairytale run in a straight sets win, while Florian Mayer ousted Richard Gasquet of France 6-3, 6-1, 3-6, 6-2.
Kohlschreiber, the German 27th seed, won 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in 1 hour, 55 minutes on Court 12.
Baker lost six years of his career after five different operations on a hernia, then his left and right hips and finally his right elbow.
He eventually felt ready to return in July last year and the 27-year-old has enjoyed a remarkably successful time back on the circuit.