Sunday 19 November 2017

Andy Murray and Laura Robson keep home crowd's dream alive at Wimbledon

Andy Murray
Andy Murray

Katie Hodge and Ellen Branagh

ANDY Murray followed in the footsteps of fellow British tennis hopeful Laura Robson this afternoon as he began his latest bout on a packed Centre Court.

The Scot's clash against Spaniard Tommy Robredo comes after Robson, 19, earned herself a standing ovation when she stormed through to the next round.


Murray, 26, received a resounding cheer as he arrived on court to take on Robredo.


The match, under the Centre Court roof, comes after the Scot took to Twitter last night and harked back to the days when all Wimbledon lawns were exposed to the elements.


"There's a bit of me that misses there being no roof on @wimbledon still looks and sounds weird watching grass court tennis indoors," he wrote.


But without the structure, his match today would, in all likelihood, have fallen victim to the rain.


Murray has faced Robredo, the 32nd seed, four times before, splitting the honours. But the British number one has won the last two matches and the pair have not faced each other since 2009.


Earlier an animated crowd spurred Robson to victory with shouts of "Come on, Laura!" while outside the court, hundreds gathered to watch the action on a big screen.


Her victory was met with a roar from fans who lined up to congratulate the teenager.


Robson, who has seen her fan-base swell dramatically as her prospects have improved, later said a win at Wimbledon would be her "biggest dream".


But she admitted suffering from nerves ahead of today's encounter with Colombia's Mariana Duque-Marino, the world number 117.


"It's a big win for me, any match on Centre Court is a big one," she said afterwards.


"It was a great atmosphere out there today and the roof being closed makes it louder."


The 6-4 6-1 victory means Robson goes through to the third round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career.


Her meeting with the Colombian came after she boosted the morale of the home crowd on Tuesday by defeating 10th seed Maria Kirilenko, of Russia, to become the only British woman to make the second round. She also became the first British woman to beat a top-10 player at the All England Club for 15 years.


Since then, Robson has drawn a host of new supporters. Harry Styles, of boyband One Direction, was among those to offer his encouragement and sent a message wishing her "good luck" ahead of today's match.


But despite her growing popularity, swathes of seats were empty when she stepped on to Centre Court.


The match followed a wet morning in SW19 which saw tennis fans huddle under umbrellas and action delayed on the outside courts for two hours.


But the rain failed to dampen spirits on a bumper day for British tennis.


The unexpected line-up of Robson then Murray was announced after the teenager's second-round clash - originally scheduled for Court Two yesterday - was postponed because of the weather.


A host of famous figures from the sporting world packed into the Royal Box to watch the duo today, including cricketers Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook, former footballer Sir Bobby Charlton and Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams.


Murray - who is on a 13-match grass court winning streak - is one of only three grand slam champions through to the third round from the six to start in the main draw, along with Argentinian Juan Martin del Potro and Serbian Novak Djokovic.


Murray was supported by his girlfriend Kim Sears, mother Judy and friend Ross Hutchins.


He took on his third singles match after an astonishing start to the Championships which saw a string of the top seeds make unexpected early exits and an unusually high number of players slip on the Wimbledon lawns.


Maria Kirilenko, who was knocked out by Robson during a first round clash earlier this week, today branded the tournament dull because of the number of hiccoughs.


"Wimbledon is boring this year so many injures and falling," the Russian player wrote on Twitter.


Kirilenko, who withdrew from a doubles clash due to injury, added: "I pulled out from my doubles match as I also injured! Going HOME!"


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