Murray beats gritty Karlovic

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London – Andy Murray cut giant Croat Ivo Karlovic down to size as the world number four reached the Wimbledon third round with 7-5, 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4) victory on Thursday.

Murray had to withstand a barrage of booming serves from Karlovic, who at 6ft 10in is the tallest man on the ATP Tour, but the British number one's gritty display was rewarded with victory in three hours and eight minutes.

The Scot will play Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov or Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus for a place in the last 16.

“Winning is all that is important when you play a guy with his style. It's so challenging to get into a rhythm,” Murray said.

“Tie-breaks are a bit of a lottery with someone like him and you just have to get a racquet on his serves and hope for the best.

“You can't really prepare for it because so few guys play like him. But I actually thought I returned well today. I tried to make him play as many balls as possible.”

Karlovic had hammered 305 aces in his 21 previous matches in 2012 and once sent down a serve clocked at 156mph.

For a while he kept up that kind of brutal assault against Murray, firing down 17 more aces on Centre Court, but the world number 59 eventually ran out of steam.

Despite having to shoulder the burden of being the only contender to end Britain's 76-year wait for a male singles champion, Murray relishes his two weeks under the spotlight at Wimbledon, where he has lost in the semi-finals for the last three years.

The 25-year-old, beaten in his three Grand Slam finals, had never failed to reach the last 32 on his previous six Wimbledon appearances and he recovered from dropping serve in the opening game of the match to take the first set.

Murray's return has always been one of his strengths and that weapon had never been needed more as he tried to subdue Karlovic's howitzer delivery.

It was harder work in the second set as Karlovic grinded his way into a tie-break which the Croatian won by a slender margin.

But Murray, who had won all three of his previous meetings with Karlovic, refused to be muscled out of his stride and broke twice to take the third set at a canter.

With Murray's serve almost as potent, if not as powerful, as Karlovic's thunderous deliveries, it was no surprise to see the fourth set go to a tie-break.

Murray's extra class finally proved the difference as he cleverly forced Karlovic into uncomfortable positions, bringing enough errors from the Croat to close out the win. – Sapa-AFP


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