Rain results in misery for Murray

BRITISH No1 Andy Murray will today resume his efforts to advance to the quarter-finals of Wimbledon after rainfall yesterday halted the momentum built throughout his fourth-round match against Marin Cilic.

Intermittent drizzle transformed into consistent rainfall during a contest in which Murray had taken control, a promising turn after early exchanges had resulted in regular clutching of the troublesome back that had marred his performance at last month’s French Open.

Murray presently holds a 7-5, 3-1 lead and any frustration felt at the break in play that coincided with a chance to close in on the second set will no doubt be compounded by the loss of a potential day’s rest in his bid to reach the final at the All England Club for the first time in his career.

Given the early eliminations of rivals Rafael Nadal, the world No2, and Andy Roddick, a previous Wimbledon finalist, Murray’s chances of reaching that first final – and potentially even winning his first ever grand slam – are as kind as they have ever been, though British tennis fans will have been reminded of the cruel intervention of rain when Tim Henman appeared on the brink of the 2001 final during his semi-final against Goran Ivanisevic.

Henman had been leading the Croatian by two sets to one when play stopped, contributing to his loss of momentum and eventual defeat, and he never again became as close to achieving that particular feat.

Six-time champion Roger Federer ensured Murray was not alone in being undermined by both the weather and back problems, however. The Swiss received treatment for discomfort in his back during the first set, and also experienced a 40-minute break in play because of the rain, though he regardless secured a 7-6 (7-1), 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Xavier Malisse to advance to the tournament’s final eight against 26th seed Mikhail Youzhny and dismissed any concerns that he continues to carry an injury. “My back is okay, it started to feel better as the match went on,” he said.

The day was far smoother for world No1 and reigning champion Novak Djokovic, who took just 90 minutes to dismiss fellow Serb Viktor Troicki in straight sets during a clinical 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 victory. “I think I played really well throughout the whole match,” Djokovic said, though he must wait to learn the identity of his quarter-final opponent after Richard Gasquet’s match against Florian Mayer was also disrupted by the weather with the latter leading 6-3, 2-1.

While the men’s tournament remains bereft of any true clarity, the women’s yesterday became far clearer. Top seed Maria Sharapova and four-time champion Kim Clijsters suffered surprise defeats, the latter’s love affair with Wimbledon drawing to a cruel conclusion.

Clijsters will retire after the US Open, making yesterday’s match her last at the British grand slam, and conceded that her conqueror, German eighth seed Angelique Kerber, had deserved to win.

“I just had the feeling that there was absolutely nothing I could have done to have won that match,” said Clijsters. “My opponent was better on every level. That was all I was thinking about.

“I know that every time I’ve played here I’ve given my best, and that’s the only thing that I can do.

Sharapova lost 6-4, 6-3 to German 15th seed Sabine Lisicki to bring to an end her bid to be the first since Serena Williams in 2002 to win the French Open-Wimbledon double.

“[Lisicki] did many things better than I did,” Sharapova said. “She played very well. I could have done things differently but not today.”

The Russian’s exit strengthens Williams’s hopes of winning her fifth Wimbledon title. After yesterday’s 6-1, 2-6, 7-5 victory over Yaroslava Shvedova, she today faces a quarter-final against Petra Kvitova.

TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

Men’s singles
■ A Murray [4] v M Cilic [16]
■ D Ferrer [7] v J Del Potro [9]
■M Fish [10] v J Tsonga [5]

Women’s singles
■ S Williams [6] v P Kvitova [4]
■ A Radwanska [3] v M Kirilenko [17]
■ T Paszek v V Azarenka [2]