British star claims he’s on the mend ahead of SW19 campaign after hard-fought victory over Tispsarevic
BRITISH tennis fans can begin to prepare for their annual instalment of Wimbledon based Murray-mania after the Scot passed the stiffest test yet of his damaged ankle at Queen’s Club yesterday.
Murray’s participation at SW19 has looked anything but guaranteed ever since he sustained ligament damage during his third round victory over Michael Berrer at the French Open a fortnight ago.
The 24-year-old has been on a course of painkillers ever since – he joked last week he had “more pills inside me than Ozzy Osbourne” – and was forced to undergo a rigorous fitness test before it was felt safe for him to compete at this week’s AEGON Championships.
Wednesday’s three-set win over former Wimbledon semi-finalist Xavier Mallise did little to allay fears that the British No1 was over the injury that handicapped him on his way to the last four at Roland Garros.
But the inhabitants of Henman Hill – or Murray Mount as it has been rechristened in recent years – can dust off their Union Jacks after Britain’s only hope of a first male Wimbledon champion since 1936 overcame Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic in two keenly contested sets before declaring his ankle as good as new.
“I tend to grimace after most points,” said Murray, playing down concern that every pained facial expression was an indication of the state of his ankle. “I fell down a couple of times [but] luckily the ankle’s fine, it’s the best it’s felt.
“I started doing some strengthening exercises last night. I am going to do them after every match and make sure I do them every day between now and Wimbledon.
“It will definitely make a difference and make me feel more comfortable on court.”
Though his fitness appears now to be in order, Murray still has some work to do before he is fully adjusted to the unique demands of grass court tennis on the evidence of his 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win over 14th seed Tipsarevic.
The British No1 had his serve broken in the first game of each set but he recovered with some aggressive tennis to beat the Serbian.
“I didn’t help myself by going behind at the beginning of both sets,” said Murray. “I could have won more comfortably if I had made a better start but because I went behind early in the sets I was trying to get my way back into it.
“I did a good job of that, especially in the second set I played much better.”
Murray will now face Croatia’s big-serving Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.