Wednesday 13 December 2017

Andy Murray battles through to Wimbledon quarter-finals as Roger Federer eases past Grigor Dimitrov

Great Britain’s Andy Murray celebrates during his fourth round match against France’s Benoit Paire REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Great Britain’s Andy Murray celebrates during his fourth round match against France’s Benoit Paire REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Andy Sims

Defending champion Andy Murray is through to the Wimbledon quarter-finals after coming through an awkward encounter with Benoit Paire.

The Scot's serve was broken three times by his French opponent, but each time he rallied to eventually secure a 7-6 (7/1) 6-4 6-4 victory.

Murray twice recovered from a break down to win the opening set on a tie-break.

A limp Paire service game in the second gave Murray an immediate break, but he was pegged back at 3-3 and saved four break points before clinching the set.

The world number one continued to limp, chuntered away angrily at his box and argued with the umpire as he struggled to find his timing.

But he grabbed the crucial break at 4-4 in the third set before serving out to seal his passage into the last eight.

There Murray will meet Sam Querrey, who came through the battle of the big serves in five sets on Court 18.

The American lost the first set 7-5 to South Africa's Kevin Anderson, but levelled on a tie-break before taking the third with a rare break of serve.

A marathon tie-break in the fourth went Anderson's way, after he survived four match points, but he was broken again in the decider as Querrey won 5-7 7-6 (7/5) 6-3 6-7 (11/13) 6-3.

Marin Cilic reached his fourth consecutive quarter-final with a straight-sets win over Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Croatian seventh seed overpowered his Spanish opponent in a one-sided contest, running out a 6-2 6-2 6-2 winner on Court 12.

Bautista Agut, seeded 18, had no answer to the fearsome groundstrokes of Cilic, one of the few men outside the top four to win a grand slam in recent years with his 2014 US Open victory.

The 28-year-old has never been beyond the last eight at these championships but looks every bit a threat to the big guns.

Tomas Berdych, the 2010 runner-up, came through a five-setter against eight seed Dominic Thiem of Austria.

The Czech, seeded 11th, was twice pegged back to 2-2 but took the final set 6-3.

Roger Federer continued his serene Wimbledon progress with a straight-sets win over Grigor Dimitrov.

The Swiss star, yet to drop a set, stayed on course for a record eighth All England Club title with a straightforward 6-4 6-2 6-4 victory in one hour and 37 minutes.

Dimitrov, the 13th seed from Bulgaria, was supposed to provide a tough test for the third seed on Centre Court.

Nicknamed 'Baby Fed' as a youngster for his resemblance in playing style to the 18-time major champion, Dimitrov was a semi-finalist at Queen's and has looked in good touch at SW19.

But Federer scarcely had to break into a sweat as he cruised into the quarter-finals.

Dimitrov had never beaten Federer in five previous attempts, but this was their first meeting on grass.

A tight first set went with serve until, in time-honoured fashion, Federer applied the pressure and secured his break in the ninth game before serving out the set.

Dimitrov, a semi-finalist in 2014, never really recovered as Federer simply moved through the gears.

Already a break up, a dropped service game in the third caused minor irritation for Federer, but he promptly broke back to snuff out any chance of a Dimitrov comeback.

After reaching his 50th grand slam quarter-final, Federer told the BBC: "He gave me some opportunities and I was happy to take advantage of them.

"I felt it was a terrific match for me, I didn't expect it to go that easy.

"I missed the clay court season but to win this you need a bit of luck and feel great. I can move freely, I'm thrilled to be in the quarters and it will be tough whoever I play."

The scheduling of matches has been a major talking point, with the men holding sway on the show courts.

Federer added: "It is still very special for me, I feel privileged to play Centre Court still when they could have put Rafa (Nadal), Novak (Djokovic) or a women's match on.

"I hope I paid them back by playing an exciting match."

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