NINE sets played, nine sets won. You can’t ask more than that from a first week’s work at Wimbledon.
In his first two matches, Andy Murray displayed clinical excellence to win. Last night against Tommy Robredo of Spain, he showed artistry in abundance as well, playing some fearsomely effective tennis and also richly entertaining tennis to take his place in the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory.
The Spaniard is seeded here, albeit at No 32, the lowest position of all. He reached the third round here a decade ago, so has experience aplenty. But Murray made him look like a novice, sending him scuttling from side to side, and winning from almost any position in a rally.
After hours of intermittent rain, the two men eventually got on court around a quarter to six. It would have been earlier, but, after Laura Robson’s win over Mariana Duque-Marino, the organisers decided to open the Centre Court roof.
That was fine while the match between Jerzy Janowitz and Nicolas Almagro was going on, but by the time Robredo and Murray were due on court, the rain had returned. Eventually, the No 2 seed and his older opponent got their contest started a few minutes before 6pm.
Robredo began solidly enough by holding serve in the opening game, but after Murray had also held serve, the true pattern of the match emerged. When on top of a rally, the Scot invariably had Robredo exactly where he wanted him. When defending, he got virtually everything back, steadily turning the tables.
Robredo had a point to win that third game, but he failed to capitalise. A minute later Murray had the first break point of the contest, and made no mistake.
With that break in the bag, Murray upped the tempo of his play, apparently effortlessly, rattling through the next two games to go 4-1 ahead. Then, from nowhere, his concentration lapsed, and he was himself broken.
A few years ago, he could spend the best part of a set at that lower level, and at times that would be enough to allow his opponent back into the match. This time he rectified his fault in the very next game, breaking back to restore his three-game advantage. He made no mistake in the next game either, wrapping up the set in 34 minutes.
A fierce beginning to the second set saw Murray break again, and he held on to that lead all the way through. Robredo served well at 3-5 down to stay in the set, and came within a point of breaking Murray in the next game. But that chance was swiftly snuffed out, and the Scot was two sets up, this one having taken a little longer at 45 minutes.
With nothing to lose, Robredo threw everything he had into the third set. Serving first, he knew that the more often he held serve, the greater a chance there was of a little bit of tightness creeping into Murray’s game.
But, having said that, whatever pressure Murray felt, he dealt with it impeccably.
The Scot did have to serve to stay in the set at 5-4 down, but he did so with ease. The pressure was on Robredo in the following game, and this time it told. Murray converted his first break point, then served out to complete a thoroughly satisfying - and encouraging - first week.
As well as delaying play on Centre Court, the intermittent rain also held up play elsewhere, and by mid-evening the two singles events were about a dozen matches behind schedule. One of the matches waiting to be played was the one between Mikhail Youzhny, the No 20 seed from Russia, and Viktor Troicki, the unseeded Serbian. The winner, provided the weather relents tomorrow, will play Murray in the fourth round on Monday.