LONDON, July 8: There may be doubts over Andy Murray’s fitness and questions about his form but the top seed showed in his Wimbledon tussle with Italian Fabio Fognini that his status as one of tennis’s most determined and dogged scrappers is indisputable.
The world number one and defending champion was far from his best against the 29th-ranked Fognini, but still booked a fourth- round spot with a rip-roaring 6-2 4-6 6-1 7-5 win on Friday.
Murray saved five break points in the fourth set, before winning five successive games to prevent himself being dragged into an energy-sapping decider that would have put further strain on the niggling hip injury he has been nursing.
“I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis,” Murray told reporters. “But I won and I got through it. You know, that’s a really positive thing.”
It is the 10th successive year Murray has reached the last 16 at Wimbledon and he had never lost at this stage to somebody ranked as low as Fognini.
Yet, with the Italian showman having beaten Murray in three of their six previous outings, this was never going to be easy for the Briton and so it proved in an encounter where the momentum swung dramatically from one player to the other.
Naomi Osaka wasn’t even born when Venus Williams made her debut at the All England Club, but it was the 37-year-old who triumphed on Friday to book her place in the last 16 at Wimbledon.
It was by no means easy though for five-times Wimbledon winner Williams to turn that 20 years of experience on the grass at SW19 into a win against the 59th ranked 19-year-old.
The 7-6(3) 6-4 result does not truly reflect the powerful attacking and spectacular winners from Osaka, who did enough in this encounter to suggest that longer runs at Wimbledon could be in her future.
Indeed, despite her tender age, Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, has reached the third round in each of the Grand Slams.
After fighting back from 4-1 down in the opening set, Osaka could easily have won it – she was 3-0 up in the tie-break before Venus, showing her characteristic grit and calm, took the next seven points.
It was tight in the second until Venus took advantage of some wayward shots from Osaka to grab a break in the seventh and she held firm to secure a place against Croatian Ana Konjuh in the fourth round.-AGENCIES