|Venue: All England Club Dates: June 28 – July 11|
|Coverage: Live on BBC TV, radio and online with wide coverage on BBC iPlayer, Red Button, connected TVs and the mobile app. Full details here|
Britain’s Andy Murray once again faced odds when he reached the third round of Wimbledon by defeating German qualifier Oscar Otte in a second thriller finished under the lights of the Center.
The Scot led the set and break, but the momentum shifted to Otte, the SW19 debutant who finished 151st in the world.
Murray, 34, looked tired as Otte won the third set for a 2-1 lead, before darkness forced the pair onto the field.
But with the crowd behind him, Murray fought back to win 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2.
The 7,500 fans housed at the Court Center as part of the government’s event research program were subdued until Murray – who thought he would have to retire in 2019 due to a serious hip injury – called for more support from the fourth set onwards.
It then turned into an electric atmosphere as the inflated Murray played toward victory, aided by the sound of singing and chanting from the partisan mob.
“I enjoyed the end of the match. The middle part not so much,” said Murray, who has had a series of nasty injuries since he had hip surgery and saved his career.
“What an atmosphere to play in the end. The whole audience was amazing, but there were a few guys inside who fired me. I needed everyone’s help.”
It was another amazing night for Murray at the All England Club, which came just 48 hours after the two-time champion defeated Georgia’s 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Like that match, Murray returned strengthened — mentally, physically, and tactically — from the forced intrusion to close the roof.
After the pair returned to the field after a 15-minute break, Murray won seven of the next nine games to take control.
There was still time for more tension and excitement. Murray struggled to hold the serve for 5-2, crossing the line by stretching the volley that made even his wife watching Kim shake her head in disbelief.
It then sealed a remarkable victory with a moment of splendor. On the first of two match balls, with Otte rushing forward, Murray produced an inch of perfect lob that made him smile and shake his head as Center Court erupted.
Now Murray will face a breakthrough in the class when he plays Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round on Friday.
Shapovalov, 22, will rest well after getting a pass on Wednesday due to a rib injury to Spanish opponent Pablo Andujar.
Murray answers questions about recovery with style
When he first appeared in singles at Wimbledon on Monday in four years, Murray showed his most impressive performance since returning from serious hip surgery in January 2019 that he thought would end his career.
The next question was whether he would be able to recover for another Grand Slam match 48 hours later.
Murray talked about how he could “barely walk” the day after beating Japanese Yoshihit Nishioku at the U.S. Open last year – the last time he played five sets.
This boiled down to a horrible groin injury that continued to haunt Murray for nine months.
It is encouraging that he was able to practice at the All England Club on Tuesday and at first he seemed to be moving well against 27-year-old Otte.
Murray moved nicely through the gears to take the opening set with a second serve break, and then looked completely commanding when he broke through again in the second for a 2-1 lead.
The sloppy service game let the German wipe it off immediately and, playing with more aggression and confidence, Otte, with the help of three beautiful winners, broke for 4-3.
As Otte served the set, Murray became more discouraged. The chatter we saw during his career became more intense, while his body language had a sense of resignation.
The atmosphere of the Center Court became muffled and virtual silence – apart from Otte’s rumble of celebration – greeted the end of the third.
Murray had barely gathered the audience until that moment, but suddenly he seemed to realize that a louder atmosphere needed to be fed.
The fans made a commitment and that inspired Murray, who was now unloading the winners and coming to the ball which he couldn’t in the middle of the match.
“I had to do something different. I started attacking more, I started dictating more points,” he said.
“Because of the lack of games, I haven’t made the right decisions many times.”
‘Not bad for a guy with a metal hook’
British number two Heather Watson joked that Murray’s performance was “not bad for a guy with a metal hook”, while GB Cup Cup captain Anne Keothavong said she was an “absolute legend”.
“You call it fun now,” added Davis Cup UK captain Leon Smith.