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Malisse v Murray as it happened

Men's singles second round result:

X Malisse (Bel) v A MURRAY (GB) 12

4-6 2-6 2-6

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

Malisse 2-6 Murray
"We love you Andy!" yell two giddy-kneed teenage girls as Murray clatters down two rib-tickling serves. There's a brief pause as Malisse challenges what looks like the winning ace, and as Hawk-Eye shakes its head the match is Murray's.

Dominant display from the curly-topped Scot, and it's ear-to-ear smiles everywhere you look as he hoists his bag onto his burgeoning shoulders and waves to all corners. Tommy Haas up next...

Malisse 2-5 Murray
Brilliant from Murray - three rocketing returns to go to 0-40, and as Malisse sags on the ropes, he finishes him off with a haymaker of a forehand. Judy clenches her fists and roars like Stuart Pearce at Euro '96.

Malisse 2-4 Murray
Judy Murray joins Kim in the special seats, having seen elder son Jamie win his doubles out on Court 19 earlier doors. A lame drop-shot - I'm saying nothing - costs him at 40-30, and when he bats a backhand wide Malisse suddenly has a break point. A 129mph ace - his 14th steadies the ship, Xav crashes a forehand into the net and is powerless as Murray buries a volley to go within two games of the third round.

Malisse 2-3 Murray
Umbrellas are brought out by a ball-boy - but still those fears, for it's only to protect the players from the sizzling sun as they drain water-bottles at the change-over. Malisse is looking a touch blank around the eyes.

Malisse 1-3 Murray
Quicksilver hold from Murray in the time it takes to type this sentence.

Malisse 1-2 Murray
Collector's item for the train-spotters among you - a foot-fault for the brutalised Belgian, but his first game in five is bagged when Murray blasts wide. The man to my right unwraps a large chocolate muffin with lip-smacking relish.

Malisse 0-2 Murray
Ace no.10 too for the machine that is Murray today. A well-fed woman in Union flag jester's hat stands up and waves a wobbling arm in the air. Malisse then drives two forehands into Murray's backhand corner to draw the error and a glimmer at break point, which Murray snuffs out with a Edbergesque backhand volley over the tape. A 135mph ace slams shut the door.

Malisse 0-1 Murray
What sort of crazy clown would ever have criticised Murray for his use of the dropper? Number 10 has Malisse tearing his '80s hair out with despair, and Murray has the break on a silver salver.

SECOND SET

Malisse 2-6 Murray
A lone whoop from a refreshed patron as Murray goes wide with a booming serve to polish off the crumbs. Admiration rather than adoration from the Centre Court, but if Murray keeps this stellar standard up for a few more rounds that could soon switch round.

Malisse 2-5 Murray
Murray comes out fired up. He batters a sitting-up mid-court ball down the line and then floats a drfiter past Xav's mesmerised eyes to pile the pressure back on. When Malisse tries to send a slicer deep onto Murray's toes he squeezes too much mustard on the hot-dog and the ball glides along. Murray's third break of the set, and fourth in seven games. It's like the ladies doubles at Eastbourne.

Malisse 2-4 Murray
Breakthrough of sorts for the embattled Belgian - he wins two points off the Murray serve for the first time in the match. Murray is steady at 30-30 but then wafts a forehand into the tram-tracks and when Xav drills a forehand dipper at Murray's on-rushing toes, he's snatched a break back. Everyone's rather stunned.

Malisse 1-4 Murray
Sympathetic sighs as Malisse finally stops the rot - or at least keeps it briefly at bay. The crowd has gone strangely quiet - it seems almost rude to cheer when a grown man is being taken apart like this. We're only 45 minutes into the match, but already it's virtually filed away.

Malisse 0-4 Murray
Relentless serving again from Murray. He's up around the 70% mark on his first serve, and the droppers are working an absolute treat. Number eight leaves Malisse railing at the gods.

Malisse 0-3 Murray
He's just got greener - another break point, another one taken. Malisse is as rudderless as a coracle.

Malisse 0-2 Murray
This is the most impressive clinical display from a Scotsman since Alexander Fleming got busy over his petri dish. Malisse has gone green.

Malisse 0-1 Murray
Scorching backhand from Murray from deep left to deep right. Xav can only loop it back and Murray dashes in to slam away the volley. Break point. Xav dares to test the backhand again and is brutalised in exactly the same way. As the ball screams past him he grunts like an angry caveman and thrashes his racquet into the turf.

FIRST SET

Malisse 4-6 Murray
Easy as pie, never a doubt. Murray belts away two consecutive overheads to breeze through with untroubled brow. Coach Miles Maclagan nods his approval.

Malisse 4-5 Murray
Malisse wipes his hair back with his towel until he looks very early '90s Van Damme. He strides out and holds with strong backhands. Murray to serve for the set.

Malisse 3-5 Murray
Hold to 15 for Murray; drop-shot no.5. Four of them have worked, so I should keep my sarcasm holstered, to be fair. He blows on his fingers like a gun-slinger and stares like Clint across the tape.

Malisse 3-4 Murray
Xav digs in and slams Murray back on the ropes with muscular service. Used to go out with Jennifer Capriati, Malisse - rumour is he got a little cheesed-off with being better known as her beau than a gladiator in his own right.

Malisse 2-4 Murray
Eight service points on the trot from Murray as he mixes that serve up to fox the ageing Belgian. Drop-shot number four seals the deal.

Malisse 2-3 Murray
Xav wobbles to 15-40 as Murray turns the screw with backhand sliciness, but the Belgian creams an overhead down and away to save one breaker and suckers in a mis-hit lob to go to deuce. Xav then drills a regulation backhand wide and the break is taken. Meaty applause all around Centre.

Malisse 2-2 Murray
Whip-crack serving from Murray and he holds to love as Kim puts delicate fingertip to delicate fingertip. A thousand camera-shutters flick-flack.

Malisse 2-1 Murray
Super touch from Xav - the full set of backhand cross-court pass, dropper and punching volley. Spectators stand and stretch as Murray squirts water into his upturned mouth and fiddles with his racquet strings like a banjo-plucker tuning up.

Malisse 1-1 Murray
Yup - there's another, but this time it's a cunning little grubber that lies down and dies before Xav can get anywhere near it. We're up and running.

Malisse 1-0 Murray
Early sniff for Murray as a slugfest from the baseline ends with a Xav boomer long. Break point - but the first Murray drop-shot of the day is as obvious as a purple elephant and Xav pops it cross-court. I'll do a running tally of Murray droppers for us - if there's less than 30 my gast will be flabbered.

1505: Here they come, and every single long lens is trained directly at the VIP slots to catch the hair-flicks and pouts of Murray's ladyfriend Kim Sears. A little chat from Tim Henman as he banters with Sue B court-side: "Murray to win in four."

1500: Tricky old dog, Malisse. He's been troubled by a wrist injury for too long, but when he's on form, there's magic in those hands.

see also
Murray gets past tricky Santoro
24 Jun 08 |  Tennis


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