Wimbledon: Andy Murray produces ANOTHER Centre Court epic as he comes from behind to beat Oscar Otte
Metal in his hip, iron in his soul, Andy Murray fights like every match is going to be his last.
He was at it again on Wednesday night, battling on borrowed time and berating himself into action. By the end he was into the third round of Wimbledon, a tournament he doubted he might ever see again from the court.
His eventual 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2 victory over the equally brave world number 151 Oscar Otte was sometimes ragged, and occasionally lit up by brilliance. The Centre Court throbbed like it was full once more, and there are times when the last four years of pain must seem worth it.
Andy Murray is through to the third round of Wimbledon after beating qualifier Oscar Otte
The two-time champ came from behind to beat Oscar Otte 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6 on Centre Court
The 34-year-old was twice on the ground in pain but dug in to book his place in the third round
It was all born from a comfortable start, which lulled everyone to think this might be blessedly straightforward. But then then that is to forget what has happened since 2017 to Murray’s increasingly unco-operative body.
He hauled himself through in the end, with the arena’s roof worthy of being awarded an assist, along with this year’s delayed 1.30pm start.
Without that the 27 year-old German might have won, as he had plenty of momentum when the stoppage came at 2-2 in the fourth set with the light fading.
Murray has massively more experience of these hiatuses, especially at this venue. It was a huge advantage to him and he used the time to regroup and come back out with an aggressive purpose that had been lacking before.
A sober assessment is that he will simply have to play much better to survive the next round against the prodigiously talented young Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the number ten seed, who earlier in the day progressed with a walkover.
German qualifier Otte was on course to upset the Centre Court audience earlier in the day
The game looked to be getting away from Murray as Otte took the second and third sets
‘I enjoyed the end, the middle part not so much, what an atmosphere,’ said Murray.
‘A lot of what I’m doing now is harder than what I did in my twenties. But that’s one of the reasons I’m still playing – why would you want to give that up? Creating moments and memories like that. I needed everyone’s help tonight. I hit some great shots to finish it but it was a tough match.
‘I had to do something differently and I started going for my shots more. I was being a bit negative. Because of the lack of matches I didn’t make the right decisions a lot of the time.’
Like so many other players he took a few nasty tumbles on the baseline, but survived: ‘It is slippy. It felt better than in my first match but I don’t remember it being quite like that. I don’t think the groin is a problem,’ he said.
Otte was a superb advert for players who live on the Challenger circuit and scrap for their living, in his case much more on clay than on the alien surface of grass. We will never know what the result would have been if they had carried on – going from outdoors to indoors changes the whole nature of matches
‘I was really struggling with my serve when the roof was on, also with the light,’ he said. ‘ I know it’s for both players, but I couldn’t find my serve rhythm anymore and I was serving worse.
‘I left everything on the court but I think the break was better for Andy and not for me.’
Murray’s comeback from injury will continue with a third-round tie against Denis Shapovalov
How different it had seemed at a set and 3-1. There seemed nothing that was going to prevent a good night’s sleep ahead of preparations to face Shapovalov, who in a youthful fit of temper once nearly blinded an umpire during a Davis Cup tie against Great Britain.
Then, from the blue, came five games lost in succession and a sharp dip from Murray, the like of which was seen against Nikoloz Basilashvili.
This was also connected to the performance of his unknown German opponent, on his first visit to Wimbledon. He will have been pleased to discover that the grass is so slow these days, but he played ridiculously above his ranking.
With his albatross reach and thumping serve he looked a tricky customer from the off, but Murray soon had the measure of him.
At 3-1 in the third this was looking like a blessedly routine passage, a relaxing watch for the Centre Court and over in good time for dinner. The effect was added to by Otte asking the umpire to summon a new pair of shorts as those he was wearing were too big.
Then came the kind of subsidence seen on Monday, a jolt telling everyone how few matches he has played of late, how few competitive sessions are in the bank.
Murray finished the game brilliantly after gaining momentum when the roof came over
He was cheered on by a lively Centre Court crowd and the Scot praised the atmosphere
Murray’s serve percentage dropped and his second delivery began to take severe punishment.
A facet of the 34 year-old Scot’s lack of match sharpness was his shot selection, and there was not his usual mix, particularly in keeping the ball low against a tall man.
At 2-2 in the fourth the roof was pulled over, handing an instant edge to Murray, and somehow you knew how it would turn out after that.