NOBODY expected Tommy Robredo to be Andy Murray’s opponent in the third round today. Perhaps not even Tommy Robredo himself.
According to the formbook, Nicolas Mahut, who has played Murray at Queen’s these past two years, winning once and losing once, would be the Scot’s opponent. Mahut is invariably dangerous on grass, and certainly has staying power: remember his marathon against John Isner three years ago?
But Robredo upset the Frenchman, winning in three sets to go through to a meeting with the second seed. It is now seven years since he was No 5 in the world, his highest-ever ranking and, at 31, he knows his best days are behind him.
Yet he is enjoying his tennis, and playing without the sort of pressure that Murray is under. And, going by what he said after his win over Mahut, he is also playing without the usual dietary restrictions which leading players adhere to.
“I think I played good,” he said of that victory. “I played against a guy who is very difficult to play on grass, and I won him in three sets. I have to congrats myself because I did a great job. So now I prefer to enjoy, to relax, to go have a great dinner because I deserve it, with a chocolate cake with ice cream.
“Obviously it’s great opponent, very tough to beat him,” he continued when asked about Murray. “But, if I have no chances, I don’t go into the court. So I’m going to go for it. I’m going to go into the court and try my best. If I have a chance, I will try to get it. If not, then congratulate him, best of luck to him, see you next time.”
Robredo, who was named after The Who’s rock opera Tommy, has a level record in his head-to-head meetings with Murray – won two, lost two. But his two victories were some time ago. In Las Vegas in 2006, when the Scot was still a teenager, and in Madrid three years later. What is more, Robredo is not even inclined to take any comfort from those two wins, admitting he could not recall how or why he got the better of Murray in either.
“Because I was better than him in that match,” he said when asked how he won either contest. “Maybe. I don’t know. Truly, I don’t remember what I did yesterday. So if you ask me what I did against Murray last match, I will have to check the statistics, I will have to check where, and then I will remember maybe. If not, I will go home, get the CDs, check the matches, then I will remember.
“I know I beat him a couple of times. Andy Murray five years ago is not Andy Murray today. And Robredo 2006 is not the same Robredo now.”
Robredo 2013 can still be a threat, and he has been enjoying a good year, having reached the last eight at Roland Garros. But he has never gone further than the third round here, and he is not going to do so now. Or at least nobody expects him to. . .