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Murray v Gulbis as it happened

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606: DEBATE

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

1903: Very little arguing with that. It was all there from Murray today - big serves, lovely mix on the groundstrokes, super touch at the net and movement to compare with the RogRaf best. The Centre Court masses whistle and cheer as he claps hand on racquet to acknowledge their support - it'll be hard to keep expectations tethered if he keeps playing like that...

Murray 6-2 7-5 6-4 Gulbis
Lordy - that's a shocker from Ernests, thrashing an absolute sitter of an overhead so far out that punters three rows back dive for cover. A lovely drop-shot gets him back into it, but what a passing shot from Murray. Break point, set point, match point - and another wonderful forehand pass!

Murray 6-2 7-5 5-3* Gulbis
Only an hour and 25 minutes gone, and Gulbo is having to serve to stay in the match. Brutal.

Murray 6-2 7-5 *4-3 Gulbis
Deuce service game to Gulbo. His facial expression indicates that it's not much compensation.

Murray 6-2 7-5 4-2* Gulbis
Only a fool would risk putting the mockers on Murray by saying how untouchable he looks on his serve, so here goes: I can't see how Gulbis can possibly break him here. Angry texts and emails to the usual addresses.

Murray 6-2 7-5 *3-2 Gulbis
"Go on Andy!" yells an eager young thing. "Thank you," warns the umpire in stern headmasterly fashion. Gulbo's second serve is almost 20mph faster than Murray's - it's not helping him break back, but it keeps him alive in set and match.

Murray 6-2 7-5 3-1* Gulbis
Another service game, another fast-forward hold. Murray's only made five unforced errors in the entire match, and he's not about it add to the tally there.

Murray 6-2 7-5 *2-1 Gulbis
Beams from Judy this time, no two ways about it - and why not? That's a splendid point, sucking Gulbo in and then leaving him almost cross-eyed with a fakey I'm-going-left-no-I'm-going-right passing shot. Break secured, and Murray's as on the money now as the Queen's face.

Murray 6-2 7-5 1-1* Gulbis
They're on their feet again, this time for a chap in the crowd who takes a sensational one-handed catch off a top-edged framer from Gulbis and flings the ball back to Murray like Jonty Rhodes at his peak. Hang on - is that Jonty Rhodes?

Chris, via text on 8111: "I've now realised for the first time in my life the vital importance of beating ernests."

Murray 6-2 7-5 *0-1 Gulbis
They're on their feet as Murray sprints down a drop-volley and flays a wristy passing shot into the open spaces. Break point - saved, a big serve arrowing wide and sweet volley at the net snuffing out the spark.

SECOND SET

Murray 6-2 7-5 Gulbis
Never in doubt. Union flags flutter, saltires swing high as the second set is sealed with nerveless serving. Gulbis hit 16 winners in that set to Murray's 13 and made only three more unforced errors, but it was Murray's ability to strike in the key game that made the difference. Almost a carnival atmos on Centre - a chap in a white afro wig celebrates by taking a picture of himself on his mobile phone.

Murray 6-2 *6-5 Gulbis
Pile on the pressure he does - keeping the ball in play, slicing that forehand deep to draw the netted errors and pulling Gulbo left and right. When a backhand bites tape he has a priceless break point - and he takes it, slicing again and again on the forehand side to drive Gulbo to dreadful distraction and celebrating the inevitable error with a fingerpoint to those massed ranks of supporters in the posh seats.

Murray 6-2 5-5* Gulbis
Blink or lose yourself in an idle thought and you'll miss these service holds. Another to love from Murray, who'll now want to pile the pressure on his curly-haired opponent in the next game. Gulbo's hair, incidentally, is a little like Murray's a year back - expanding exponentially upwards and in danger of doing the full Alan Sunderland.

Murray 6-2 *4-5 Gulbis
Anyone for a tie-break? Should it come to pass, Gulbo is 4-5 on breakers this year, Murray 8-5. Gulbis makes a tent of his towel at the changeover, hides underneath and toys with the sweatband strappings around his wrists.

Murray 6-2 4-4* Gulbis
The full line-up of Team Murray providing back-up for Judy and Kim in the VIP slots - Green, Little, Maclagan and Ireland, sporting a wide range of sponsors' product sunhats. Rifle-crack noises off Murray's racquet as he levels up with splendid simplicity - solid serves, faultless forehands.

Murray 6-2 *3-4 Gulbis
Definitely finding his feet. That's lovely tennis, moving Murray from left to right and creaming the ball into the open spaces vacated by the sweating Scot. No walkover anymore.

Murray 6-2 3-3* Gulbis
Still warm out there - both men's shirts are starting to cling to their shoulders and backs. Murray is marching through his services games like a man hungry for his dinner. Punters stand and stretch as he seals the game, pulling errant pantaloons from places they shouldn't be stuck and making star shapes with arms and hands outstretched.

Murray 6-2 *2-3 Gulbis
First signs of Gulbo starting to settle. His own first serve is now kicking like an angry mule, and he sprints in to punch away the two crispiest volleys of the match. No sniff of a break.

Murray 6-2 2-2* Gulbis
Barely a seat untaken all around. Murray's first serve percentage is well up on Tuesday's opener against Robby Kendrick, and there's no fingerhold for Gulbo in that. 74% of those first serves landing in, at around 130mph - which gives his rival about half a second to lay a racquet on it. Big stats.

Murray 6-2 *1-2 Gulbis
The first Mexican waves of the tournament sweep around Centre as Gulbis holds at pace. Tarbuck (Jimmy) and Paige (not Jimmy - Elaine) are in the Royal Box, but they defer to decorum and keep derrieres down.

Murray 6-2 1-1* Gulbis
A soft shadow from the new roof stretches slowly across the court as Murray crashes in his 16th consecutive successful service point. There's a wobble next as a double-fault ends the run and a whip-crack Gulbo forehand finds him out of position, but he reaches for that muscular serve to ease the nascent fears of the surrounding spectators.

Murray 6-2 *0-1 Gulbis
Gulbo's not carried the best form into this match - he lost in the first round at Queen's a fortnight ago, and hasn't won back-to-back matches at tour level all season. He's left staring in disbelief as Murray's reflex forehand sizzles past his follow-through but then finds his range on his serve to keep his nostrils above water.

FIRST SET

Murray 6-2 Gulbis
Apologies if Thor didn't have a hammer - maybe the Norse gods got some Polish handymen in to do the odd jobs for them. Murray plays a drop-shot so well disguised that Ernests don't even start running, and they're helpless in the face of those brutal jumping serves. Delight in all corners of a rapt Centre Court.

Murray *5-2 Gulbis
By the hammer of Thor, what a shot! Ernests are at the net behind a deep approach, only to be left flat-footed and flummoxed by a one-handed backhand slice lob. A vicious forehand running passer piles further misery on the young Latvian, and when a backhand volley is clouted horribly into the net, another break has gone. Judy Murray watches on emotionless. Outwardly.

Murray 4-2* Gulbis
Wispy clouds drift across the sun as Murray squints down the court. He leans back, winds up the shoulder and thrashes down four untouchable beauties. In the crowd, a man who looks like a skinnier Jason Statham slurps happily at a giant Pimm's. Is that a two-pinter?

Murray *3-2 Gulbis
Now then - first sight of the target for Murray. He pulls Ernests to the net and then lets their over-hit forehand drift long, tears into a weak second serve - two break points - and nods his head with fierce pleasure as Gulbo goes long. Up in the VIP seats, an almost imperceptible smile creeps across Kim Sears' sunlit face.

Murray 2-2* Gulbis
First crowd-pleasing point of the match - exchange of droppers across the tape, an attempted lob from Ernests and a slapping smashaway from Murray. They've met twice before, these two - well, they've met plenty of times, but they've met twice on a tennis court - and Murray has won on both occasions, in three sets on grass at Queen's last year and in two sets on the hard courts of St Petersburg. Solid hold from the home favourite.

Murray *1-2 Gulbis
If your Ernests knowledge is a tad shaky, try this for size: this is his third year at Wimbledon, and he's yet to make it past this second round stage - but he did take the first set off Rafa Nadal last year, and only lost the third on a breaker. Beefcake serving again from the 20-year-old Latvian and Murray is left reeling and stretching in a lonely baseline stand.

Murray 1-1* Gulbis
Ooof - too strong from Ernests, and Murray is out-paced and overpowered. A crashing forehand leaves him reeling at the baseline and another sears past him before he can skip his feet into place - two break points, and a hush falls over Centre. That's more like it on the serve, though - one thumper after another, all above 130mph, and Gulbis can do no more than send them back with a big "hit me" sign attached.

Murray *0-1 Gulbis
Ernests to start us off. Seems harsh that Murray has been drawn against two men, but there you go. They begin with a big serve, but that's shaky - lame serve, long on the forehand, early deuce nibble for Murray. Ernests then pick up the pace with two serves nudging 130mph to close out the game.

* denotes next server

1730: Last moment preparation in the crowd too - a man in a rakish straw sunhat tilts his chin to allow his ladyfriend to paint the remaining blue segments of a Union flag across his face. She's done a decent job there - slight smudge top right, but the stripes are all where they should be.

1727: And here come the gladiators - not literally of course; no-one wants to see Wolf showing off his forehand against Shadow. Murray seems to be wearing a creme knitted tank-top, which is the sort of tactical curve-ball that could leave Gulbis floundering.

1723: Punters sprint to their seats, half flapping in panicked fashion, the other half telling the panickers to stop flapping.



1721: And so the time has come. The concourses and bars of Wimbledon have been growing increasingly frenzied as the day has gone on, a heady combination of baking sunshine, cool Pimm's and rampant MurrayMadness taking its toll on the SW19 spectators - but we are now just moments away.



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