Day 5 of Wimbledon 2011 was brought to an exciting end with a late night finish that kept British fans riveted.
British number one Andy Murray advanced to the fourth round of the Grand Slam tournament after he overcame a stern challenge, which included a fourth set tie-break against tennis veteran and former world number 3 Ivan Ljubicic.
Rain delays were the order of the day as some of the sport’s biggest names saw their games postponed at the All-England club as a result of turbulent weather conditions.
Spain’s David Ferrer was an early winner as Wimbledon’s men played what was initially hoped to be a “catch-up” on day 5 of The Championships.
However as evening approached, many of the day’s late starters, including defending champion Rafael Nadal, were forced to retire to the dressing room early as the dismal weather halted play. One match was not disrupted however as the addition of the roof to the centre court allowed play to continue for the duration of the Murray, Ljubicic match which lasted just under three hours. Murray will now enjoy a two day rest ahead of his fourth round meeting with Frenchman Richard Gasquet.
The British number one did not have it all his own way however as the 32-year-old Croation Ljubicic proved that his best days are not behind him, producing an impressive serve and volley game.
Despite a poor start, which saw him go a break down early in the first set, Murray powered through to take the opening set. The hard hitting Croat broke Murray again in the second set and this time he held his nerve to take the set as an outwardly frustrated Murray struggled to contain his emotions.
With a deafening Centre Court crowd behind him however, the world number 4 showed just why he is among those at the top of the men’s game, putting Ljubicic to the sword with a convincing 6-1 third set performance.
When Murray went up a break in the fourth set, the Scotsman it seemed was home and dry. Much to the crowd’s dismay however, Ljubicic had other ideas and breaking Murray’s serve once more, he forced the game to a tie-break.
While the male British number one lives to fight another day, the British women were not so lucky with the top two seeds in British women’s tennis bowing out of the tournament. British number one Elena Baltacha lost to China’s Shuai Peng in three sets 6-4 2-6 7-5 while Laura Robson fell victim to number 5 seed and tournament favourite Maria Sharapova.
The 24-year-old Russian and former Wimbledon Champion had to dig deep however, as the 17-year-old Londoner proved that she is definitely one to watch. Robson who won the Wimbledon Junior Championship in 2008 raced to a 4-1 lead raising questions about the Sharapova serve that the Russian struggled to answer.
She soon regained her composure however and battled back to level the match before taking the tie-break from Robson’s grip to go a set in front. As Robson began to tire, a second set break gave Sharapova a lead which she would not relinquish and ran out the winner, 7-6 6-3.
Elsewhere, Victoria Azarenka advanced at the expense of Daniella Hantuchova. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova fell to the 19th seed Yanina Wickmayer in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Nadia Petrova coasted through to the fourth round after dismissing Kateryna Bondarenko 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and six minutes on Court 14. The 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist Petra Kvitova continued her excellent form on grass by advancing to the fourth round following her victory over Roberta Vinci in straight sets.
In the men’s draw, Andy Roddick became the highest ranking player to exit the competition so far this week after he was defeated in three sets by Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 7-6 7-6 6-4.
There was also a shock on the women’s side as number two Vera Zvonareava was defeated.
Play will resume at the All-England club tomorrow, Saturday in an effort to ease the backlog of play resulting from weather disruptions.
The busy schedule will see Sharapova in action again tomorrow as she takes to court two for her third round meeting with 35th seed Kara Zakopalova.
Court number 1 will play host to Russia’s Kirilenko against Serena Williams who made no secret of her displeasure at being relegated to an outside court for her second round match.
Women’s top seed Caroline Wozniacki will take on Jarmil Gahdosova on centre court while former Wimbeldon runner-up David Nalbandian will meet Roger Federer. World number two Novak Djovovic will take on Marcus Bagdatis while play will resume between defending champion Rafael Nadal and Gilles Muller with the Spaniard leading narrowly after taking the first set 7-6.
Gael Monfils, Tomas Berdych and Mardy Fish are also among the big-name seeds with third round matches still to complete. It seems that “catch-up day” has been extended for another 24 hours and that means that, for the winners at least, the weekend has been cut a bit shorter than originally planned.