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Page last updated at 16:53 GMT, Thursday, 23 June 2011 17:53 UK

Wimbledon 2011: Rusedski on Murray v Ljubicic

Andy Murray

Murray eases past Kamke in straight sets (UK only)

World number four Andy Murray takes another step in his bid to become the first British winner of the Wimbledon men's singles title since Fred Perry 75 years ago when he faces Ivan Ljubicic in the third round.

His progress so far has been relatively straightforward, but he will be facing a seasoned competitor in Ljubicic in what is set to be an intriguing clash.

Now in his 30's, the veteran Croatian may be in the twilight of his career but still possesses the game and the serve to push Murray all the way.

Greg Rusedski, who faced Ljubicic during his career, analyses where the match could be won or lost and the respective strengths and weaknesses of both players.

Greg Rusedski
By Greg Rusedski
Former world number four

WHO IS IVAN LJUBICIC?

Historically Ivan Ljubicic hasn't been at his best on grass and has gone out in the first round in seven of his previous 11 appearances at Wimbledon.

This is a strange statistic for such a good player, who has a wonderful serve and a wonderful one-handed backhand. His forehand side is a little bit weaker so he tends to mix it up - he will come forward at times - but he is more comfortable from the back of the court.

IVAN LJUBICIC
Age: 32
Nationality: Croatian
Turned pro: 1998
World ranking: 33
Highest ranking: 3 (May 2006)
ATP singles titles: 10
Career prize money won: $9,775,090

His best Grand Slam performance came at the French Open in 2006 when he reached the semi-finals and a career high of number three in the world.

Despite being over 30, he actually won the Masters Series at Indian Wells last year to become the first Croatian to do so. Recently, he played very well at the French Open before losing to Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

He is a guy who is enjoying the latter stages of his career right now and has absolutely nothing to lose against Andy Murray.

WHAT IS THE KEY SHOT FOR BOTH PLAYERS?

MURRAY
Actually, you have got to look at three shots with Andy. Firstly, how well he is going to serve because he has such great variety.

It's not just the speed or the accuracy of his [Ljubicic's] first serve, but what all the best servers have is a great second serve

GREG RUSEDSKI

Secondly, I will be looking at his forehand up the line because most of the players these days are always expecting cross-court forehands, so he needs to flatten that one out. If he is hitting that shot well that is a great sign about how healthy the state of his game is.

And thirdly, his return of Ljubicic's serve is going to be key.

LJUBICIC
It's his massive serve. It's not just the speed or the accuracy of his first serve, but what all the best servers have is a great second serve. Not only that, but his backhand is also a big weapon.

WHAT WEAKNESSES DO THEY HAVE IN THEIR GAMES?

MURRAY
I think it comes down to his mentality. The key for me is that he carries forward the consistency that we have seen from him in his first two matches through hopefully all seven matches of this championships.

MURRAY v LJUBICIC HEAD-TO-HEAD
Six meetings (five hard court, one carpet)
Murray: three wins
Ljubicic: three wins

If you look at Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the moment, no matter who they are playing - even if it is someone who is 250th in the world or the very best - they always have the same approach. All the top players do things systematically and routinely and Murray is starting to get that now from the work he is doing with coach Darren Cahill.

LJUBICIC
I think the forehand side is the weakness for Ljubicic as it can really be up and down at times. He doesn't move as well as he used to and he doesn't have a two-handed return, he kind of chips it back at times, so that will give Andy the chance to be aggressive.

HOW IS THEIR FITNESS AND MOVEMENT?

MURRAY
Obviously, Murray is the stronger of the two. Right now he is at the physical peak of his career and is in incredible shape.

LJUBICIC
The good thing for Murray is that Ljubicic is not in his 20's anymore - he is 32 now and that is a big advantage for Andy. Ljubicic has kept himself in great shape, but unfortunately you get half a step slower when you get into your thirties. Trust me.

HOW COULD THE CONDITIONS AFFECT THE MATCH?

The conditions will make a massive difference if they play on Centre Court with the roof on. The court becomes a lot slower under cover, which for a big server like Ljubcic is a major factor.

This will play right into Murray's hands as he will win the battle from the back of the court. The courts are already slower than they were as the rye grass doesn't have any thistle now, so the balls get heavier because the felt fluffs up, and the pressure of the balls is a lot less.

Having the roof on only exacerbates this, so it would be a big advantage for Murray.

WHAT IS YOUR VERDICT?

I can't really see an upset happening.

Maybe Murray could lose a set, but if he returns well enough and stays on the forehand side of Ljubicic you have to expect him to win in three/four sets.

It's a great match-up - one of the best servers in the world against one of the best returners.


Greg was talking to BBC Sport's Paul Birch



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see also
Andy Murray column
23 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Henman on Murray
22 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Murray eager to improve on game
22 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Murray through in straight sets
22 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Murray v Kamke as it happened
22 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Henman on Murray
20 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day one as it happened
20 Jun 11 |  Tennis
Wimbledon day one photos
20 Jun 11 |  Tennis


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