The 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) scoreline was a reflection of Murray’s superior all-court skills and the South African’s over-dependence on serve.
After a clammy weekend, Wimbledon entered the business end of the tournament with an initial spell of sweet sunshine. The clarity of at the beginning of play, which was interrupted by sharp and unexpected spells of spitting rain, seemed to complement the weight of expectations and the soundness of the draw.
Alize Cornet's resolutely clean hitting had brought top-seeded Serena Williams down on Saturday. But for the most part, Manic Monday — on which ordinarily all men and women pre-quarterfinalists compete in one frenzied day — wore a comforting familiarity, bearing no resemblance to its counterpart in 2013. Last year, the carnage caused by an inexplicable string of upsets and injuries had seen off the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Marin Cilic, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka by this stage.
On Centre Court, where play continued under the covered roof after it had been brought to a rude halt on other courts, Andy Murray defeated Kevin Andersen in straight sets in their fourth round match. The defending champion had his work cut out, needing to neutralise the 6ft 6in South African’s enormous serve that he slaps down in a manner reminiscent of Goran Ivanisevic. Murray prevailed in the longer rallies in a match characterised by short, sharp exchanges and some big aces.
The 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6) scoreline was a reflection of Murray’s superior all-court skills and the South African’s over-dependence on serve, which was constantly under pressure against an opponent who has one of the best returners in the game.
In a fine third set, Anderson hung on tenaciously, stringing together some brilliant points, which left Murray, eager to get the match over with, somewhat anxious. Deservedly, it went into the tiebreaker, which saw Murray go ahead first by fending off a serve into the body that turned out a winner, but Anderson pulled level.
Eventually, a flubbed backhand at 6-6 presented Murray with the match-point that he closed out with a backhand winner, and a leap of relieved delight.
The honour of kicking off proceedings on Centre Court was accorded to Saturday’s Serena Slayer, pitted against Eugenie Bouchard, who has a very similar style. Both women are stronger of their two-handed backhands, hit their first serves flat, are comfortable at the net, and complement their power with some deft lobs and drop shots.
The quality of tennis, characterised by strong deep hitting that had both players being run ragged around the baseline, matched anything the higher seeds could have thrown up.
Bouchard took the first set in a break tie-break. Cornet did have her chances but failed to convert three break points and to capitalise on Bouchard’s 17 unforced errors against her relatively meagre six.
The loss of the first set saw Cornet getting more aggressive breaking to go up 3-2, after some long baseline exchanges and then eagerly gobbling up a short second serve.
It was then Bouchard’s turn to fight back to level 5-5, achieved with a peach of a cross court drop shot and a screaming backhand return of serve down the line. From then on, the Canadian was more or less unstoppable winning 7-5 to march into the quarterfinals.
Men: Fourth round: 26-Marin Cilic (Cro) bt Jeremy Chardy (Fra) 7-6(8), 6-4, 6-4; 3-Andy Murray (GBR) bt 20-Kevin Anderson (Rsa) 6-4, 6-3, 7-6(6); 11-Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) bt Leonardo Mayer (Arg) 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-2.
Third round: 5-Stan Wawrinka (Sui) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-3, 6-3, 6-4; 19-Feliciano Lopez (Esp) bt 9-John Isner (USA) 6-7(8), 7-6(6), 7-6(3), 7-5; 10-Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Simone Bolelli (Ita) 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-4.
Women: Fourth round: 13-Eugenie Bouchard (Can) bt 25-Alize Cornet (Fra) 7-6(5), 7-5; 6-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt Shuai Peng (Chn) 6-3, 6-2; Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Cze) bt 16-Caroline Wozniacki (Den) 6-2, 7-5; 23-Lucie Safarova (Cze) bt Tereza Smitkova 6-0, 6-2; 22-Ekatarina Makarova (Rus) bt 4-Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) 6-3, 6-2.
Third round: 19-Sabine Lisicki (Ger) bt 11-Ana Ivanovic (Srb) 6-4, 3-6, 6-1; Yaroslava Shvedova (Kaz) bt Madison Keys (USA) 7-6(7), 6-6 (retd.).
Mixed doubles: Second round: Eric Butorac (USA) & Timea Babos (Hun) bt 4-Leander Paes (Ind) & Cara Black (Zim) 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.