Andy Murray Centre Court classic curtailed by curfew at Wimbledon

Andy Murray Centre Court classic curtailed by curfew at Wimbledon

Andy Murray is one set away from a place in the third round of Wimbledon after a late-night classic against Stefanos Tsitsipas was halted by the tournament’s 11pm curfew.

On the eve of the anniversary of his first title at the All England Club, Murray rolled back the years with a performance showcasing all his famous grit, skill and grass-court nous to lead 6-7 (3) 7-6 (2) 6-4.

There were boos when it was announced the match would be halted with 20 minutes still to go until the cut-off point but Murray was probably not too disappointed after a hugely concerning moment at set point when the Scot screamed in pain and fell to the ground clutching his left groin.

Andy Murray slips on court during his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas
Andy Murray slips on court during his match against Stefanos Tsitsipas (John Walton/PA)

Mercifully he quickly got to his feet and clinched the set with a serve that drew a Tsitsipas error, and the hope must be he has not done anything that could jeopardise his chances.

Liam Broady’s five-set win over Casper Ruud earlier on Centre Court meant this match did not begin until after 7.30pm, with Murray looking to emulate his less-heralded compatriot by taking out a top-five seed.

For the first time since his second Wimbledon title in 2016, the Scot had arrived at the All England Club feeling fit and healthy, and he declared after dropping just four games to Ryan Peniston in round two that he was playing well enough to beat most of his rivals in the draw.

Murray may no longer be right at the top of the game but he knows his way around a grass court better than most, and there are few of the younger generation who relish competing on the surface.

Tsitsipas is certainly much more comfortable on clay and hard courts, with his best performance here so far a run to the fourth round five years ago.

He had needed two days and five sets to get past Dominic Thiem in round one while Murray had the luxury of the roof for his clash with Peniston, and the court was covered again as they stepped out, with little chance the match could be completed in daylight.

The atmosphere rippled with excitement and both players struck the ball crisply from the start, with not so much as a deuce until the 12th game, when an ill-advised HawkEye challenge from Murray on a ball that clipped the baseline left him facing break point.

He responded with his own forehand on to the line, yelling ‘let’s go’ when Tsitsipas missed the opposite sideline, and into a tie-break they went.

Andy Murray rolled back the years at Wimbledon
Andy Murray rolled back the years at Wimbledon (Victoria Jones/PA)

There the Greek took a page from Novak Djokovic’s book of how to play flawless tie-breaks, a series of exceptional points giving him the advantage and letting a little air out of the Centre Court balloon.

Tsitsipas has saved some of his best tennis for the grand slams this year, reaching a second final at the Australian Open, where he came up against the unstoppable Djokovic, and the last eight in Paris.

In the second set Murray was hanging on as Tsitsipas’ forehand really caught fire, the 24-year-old powering 11 clean winners off that side.

But Murray avoided giving up any break points and got his reward, with Tsitsipas finally making a few mistakes to slip to 6-2 adrift.

Murray used all his home advantage, lingering around the net and whipping up the crowd, and a huge roar greeted the next point.

At their only previous grand slam meeting, at the US Open in 2021, Murray said he had lost respect for his opponent over the length of his toilet breaks during a five-set loss for the Scot.

The rules have since changed but Tsitsipas, who had referred to the court as Murray’s living room, was booed on his return from an extended break to change his clothes.

The Greek carried his disappointment into the third set and Murray pounced immediately, creating his first break points of the match and breaking to love.

Tsitsipas recovered his composure and forced two break points in the fourth game but Murray’s serve was now purring and he appeared set to clinch the set comfortably prior to his unfortunate slip.