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A-grade Murray boxes clever to beat Troicki

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Originally published on: 26/02/10 11:37

Had it been a boxing match, the referee would have called it off. British No.1 Andy Murray produced a merciless display infused with such clinical dominance that dispatching Viktor Troicki 6-2 6-3 6-4 almost flatters the Serbian.

But it was not the heavyweight element of Murray’s game that dealt the killer blows – although the Scot’s serve was particularly irresistible today. Instead it was the technical excellence of the world No.3’s court craft. Murray boxed clever.

And all too often Troicki was left staggering around the court punch drunk. Point after point, he was left semi-catatonic, bewildered at what just happened and even what to do next as another ball sailed past.

“I have to give myself an A for coming through the first week”

In truth the Serbian was never in the match, left to argue with his demons as Murray had an answer for virtually everything. The first two sets were so brutal that even the partizan home crowd empathised with the 23-year-old.

Troicki was not prepared to hand it to the Scot, determined to keep Murray under pressure by aggressively hitting out at all opportunities – but the tactic merely played right into Murray’s hands.

After splitting the first four games, Murray rattled off seven in a row as the first and second sets were decided amid a flurry of aces and well-crafted points, often coaxing Troicki to the net and picking him off at will.

The world No.3 was quickly readying himself between points, perhaps with one eye on the darkening sky overhead as the crowd anticipated the first ever closing of the roof during the Championships.

It didn’t happen, despite the odd drop of rain at the start of the third set as lighting broke further north in London. Two sets and a break to the good, Murray dropped just off the boil momentarily at the start of the third, giving up his first break point in game three, but two service winners soon quashed any minor embarrassment.

Troicki had improved by the third, but it was all too late and still not enough. With the finish line in sight, Murray began to enjoy himself, reeling off three shots that underlined his menacing arsenal – a highly disguised backhand drop shot, a bludgeoned forehand winner and a dipping cross-court pass. Comparisons with the court craft of Federer were inevitable.

The Scot finished the job with an ace to rapturous applause in Centre Court and on Henman Hill, closing the match out in just over an hour and a half.

There was more evidence that this year’s Murray is a different animal to the scruffy kid in the baggy kit. He produced some great moments of artistry and athleticism but, unlike the histrionic displays that accompanied last year’s fourth round against Richard Gasquet, a subtle fist pump was all that was deemed necessary.

“I have to give myself an A for coming through the first week,” he said. “Today was very good. I felt a little bit uncomfortable at the start, but after the first set I started to feel more comfortable.

“I’ve got to be happy with the first week – I felt better and better with every match. But I’m going to have to play better next week if I want to come away with the title.”

Murray faces Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round on Monday. But if there are those out there searching for celestial signs that the British No.1 is destined for the title, here’s one for you – following Murray’s two previous meetings against Troicki, he has gone on to win the tournament.

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