Friday, June 24, 2011

Last man standing: Murray the great British hope powers into last 16 at Wimbledon roared on by girlfriend Kim and Centre Court crowd

-Fourth seed Murray powers into fourth round after Centre Court drama
-Thousands came in the early morning to show their support
-By 10am those in the queue were told they would not get in till 5pm
-Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha both suffered defeat

By Daily Mail Reporter

Marching on: Murray salutes the Centre Court crowd after his battling four set win over Croatian Ivan Ljubicic

As the last remaining Briton at Wimbledon and the fourth seed in the men's draw, he is used to having the weight of the nation's expectations on his shoulders.

But Andy Murray produced another gutsy performance tonight to power into the fourth round at SW19, roared on by a Centre Court crowd and his girlfriend Kim Sears.

The Scot was made to battle late into the evening to overcome Croatian Ivan Ljubicic and secure his place in the second week of the tournament.

Digging deep: Murray had to graft hard against the experienced Ljubicic, but eventually overcame the Croat after a fourth set tiebreak

Showboating: Despite the battling performance, Murray still had time to throw in an exhibition shot during his third round match

Rain had meant Murray was made to wait until 7pm to start his third round match.

But he eventually prevailed in a four-set battle over Ljubicic, with girlfriend Miss Sears and his mother Judy providing their usual vocal support from the stands.

Murray found himself in the familiar role of lone Briton in Wimbledon's second week following Laura Robson's brave defeat to Maria Sharapova earlier on Friday.

Despite further rain in the evening, Murray's match was able to go ahead once Centre Court's roof was moved into position.

By the time the 24-year-old had beaten Ljubicic 6-4 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4), the rest of the grounds were in pitch black as Centre Court glowed under the lights.

Nailbiting finish: Murray's girlfriend Kim Sears and his mother Judy were among those gripped by his latest Wimbledon victory

That's my boy: Mother Judy celebrates Andy Murray winning another crucial point

Late finish: Murray's match ran well past dark thanks to the retractable, lit roof on Centre Court

Murray will now face Richard Gasquet in the last 16 on Monday after his win over world number 33 Ljubicic.

The fifth day at the All England Club had drawn huge crowds all hoping to see British hopes Laura Robson, Murray and Elena Baltacha.

But so many descended on SW19 today hoping to watch the last three home players in action that fans were told to stop queueing.

By 10am those outside the ground were told they would not get in until 5pm. Shortly afterwards late-comers to the queue were told they had no chance.

The lucky spectators who were up early enough are ushered into Wimbledon this morning

Home support: British fans on Centre Court wait for the chance to watch Andy Murray

It was a squeeze for fans even to watch games on the outside courts - but at least they gained entrance

But unfortunately those hoping to see a British treble were left disappointed as Laura Robson and Elena Baltacha both suffered defeat.

Those losses meant Andy Murray was the only British player left in either singles draw.

It was a squeeze for fans even to watch games on the outside courts - but at least they gained entrance.

Tournament officials said it was the busiest they had seen it all week, while former British number one Tim Henman said it was 'brilliant' the public were so behind the trio.

Five hundred tickets were made available for each of the main courts - Centre, One and Two.

The £68 tickets were quickly snapped up by fans desperate to see world number four Andy Murray return to Centre Court against Croatian Ivan Ljubicic after being relegated from it on Wednesday.

There were 500 tickets available this morning to see Laura Robson, left, take on former Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova. Unfortunately the 17-year-old was unable to give the fans a British victory

Robson found herself outgunned by the 2004 champion Maria Sharapova

Punters were also forking out £58 for Court One tickets to experience of bit of history - teenage sensation Laura Robson's first second round Grand Slam match.

But the The 17-year-old, who was first on the court agaisnt former world number one Maria Sharapova, was defeated in straight sets by the 2004 champion.

And those hoping for home victories were also left disappointed by British women's number one Baltacha losing to China's Shuai Peng in the first game on Court 18.

But furious fans voiced their anger at 'Queen of Screams' Sharapova, claiming her excessive grunting was putting Robson off.

Robson found herself outgunned by the 2004 champion Sharapova
The world number six shrieked throughout her straight-sets win over the 17-year-old - with spectators saying the grunting gave her an unfair advantage.

Wimbledon's Murray Mount became Robson Rise as thousands watched the battle on SW19's giant screen.

Unusual headgear was the order of the day for British tennis fans

Play should start under blue skies meaning the Centre Court roof is unlikely to come into play today

Andy Murray will be back on Centre Court today after playing his last match on Court 1, while Serena Williams has accused organiser of bias towards the men after she was relegated to Court 2

A reporter's gruntometer recorded the Russian at 116.9 decibels during the second round contest.

Yvonne Nicholas, from Gloucestershire, said: 'I find it very irritating and it must be quite off-putting.'

Dave Gittings, 56, from London, said: 'I think it is ridiculous. It is just not necessary.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon organisers have managed to anger a number of top players over apparent inconsistencies in their approach to scheduling.

While Robson on Maria Sharapova on Court One, Caroline Wozniacki - the women's number one seed - will play her third round match in the relative wilderness of Court 2.

It will add fuel to the argument that there is bias in favour of home players.

Unusual headgear was the order of the day for British tennis fans
Play should start under blue skies meaning the Centre Court roof is unlikely to come into play today

Andy Murray will be back on Centre Court today after playing his last match on Court 1, while Serena Williams has accused organiser of bias towards the men after she was relegated to Court 2

The decision comes the day after Serena Williams lashed out at tournament chiefs for relegating her and sister Venus to outside courts - claiming that it was the women's game that was the target of snub.

And it seems the organisers really can't win. While home fans were angered at the decision for Andy Murray's second round game to be played on Court One, others expressed anger that it was only the second time Murray has not been given a Centre Court spot since making his debut five years ago.

The All England Club like to give each top name a match away from Centre Court to avoid accusations of favouritism.

Their regulations state they aim for 'efficient and imaginative scheduling'.

Magic view: Rupert Grint enjoys the action today on Centre Court

Laura Robson tries her hand at planking in a photo she posted on her Twitter page

Meanwhile, Serena, the defending women's champion, was sent out to Court 2 for her second-round clash with Romania's Simona Halep, which she won 3-6, 6-2, 6-1. So was Williams' sister Venus, the five-time singles champion, for her opening match on Monday.

Asked if she viewed it as an insult that players such as Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic were not treated in the same way, Serena said: 'Yeah, they're never moved across.

'Venus and I have won more Wimbledons than a lot of players, even just in doubles. I don't make it a big issue - but I think at some point I should.'

Serena, who together with Venus has won 18 titles at the All England Club, added: 'But they are not going to change what they do.

'They seem to like to put us on Court 2 for whatever reason. Maybe one day we'll figure it out. I don't know.'

Serena also sarcastically pointed out that there were other disadvantages to being on Court 2 - the furthest from the players' area.

'I never have too much time to warm up,' complained the seventh seed, back playing after a year out.

'I look at the walk over there as a kind of warm-up. I say, "OK, this gets my legs moving".'

The All England Club insisted there was no agenda against the sisters, saying: 'Scheduling is a complex business and cannot be looked at in the light of just one or two matches.

'The referees team have to ensure a balanced and fair order of play from many interests, including the spectators. What a great chance it was for the 4,000 people on Court No 2 to see our ladies champion.'

Stacey Allaster, the chairman and chief executive of the WTA Tour, said in a statement: ‘Serena Williams is a four-time Wimbledon singles champion, the defending champion of Wimbledon, and a 13-time grand slam singles champion. I share her disappointment.’

And while organisers will be pleased that the rain stayed away for the day, the best weather of the fortnight is set to come on Sunday - when there is no play.

The middle of the Sunday, traditionally a rest day is only used if rain has severely disrupted the matches. And despite frequent downpours this week the schedule is unlikely to have been delayed enough to warrant the extra day being used.

British number one Elena Baltacha narrowly lost to Peng Shuai of China


It's a handy use for all those old balls.

Artist Hugh Hayden, 27, has designed a set of furniture made out of nothing but recycled tennis balls.

The self-described 'FUNature' includes handcrafted chairs, poufs and coffee tables.

Each item takes over 18 hours of painstaking labour to complete - depending on its size - and sells for around £1,500 each.

A hole is meticulously drilled into each of the 550 indoor tennis balls needed to make a single, normal sized chair - before they are strung together with a polyester cord and glued into place.

Hugh, from Dallas, Texas, said: 'There was a tennis club near to where I live now in Brooklyn who had a shed full of old tennis balls that were deemed too flat to play with.

'I went there thinking I could bring them back on the Subway - but I ended up getting taxi from there, filling it with balls and bringing them all back to my apartment. It has just escalated from there.'

Hugh, who produced his first tennis ball chair in 2009, has since sold over 50 of the chairs in his HEX Tennis Collection.

And they have not only proved a hit with tennis fans but big-hitting players too - with Andy Roddick buying one made from balls he used at the 2009 US Open for £1,900.

The 27-year-old designer added: 'Tennis balls are hard to work with because they are quite heavy and difficult to manipulate.

'But they are naturally resilient, which allows them to form to the unique contours of the user's body.

'And they have proved popular with tennis fans because they have a relevance to them.

'I have done special commissions for both Chris Evert and Andy Roddick.

'The Roddick chair was constructed out of balls he played with at the 2009 US Open. That was then auctioned off for his foundation, which aims to teach children a healthy lifestyle through tennis.'


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