Murray puts down a marker as seeds stumble

Wed Jun 25, 2014 5:37pm EDT
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By Martyn Herman

LONDON (Reuters) - The champagne cork that popped in the first game of Andy Murray's thrashing of Blaz Rola may have been premature, but the defending Wimbledon champion has already thrown down the gauntlet to his rivals.

Fans toasted the home favourite as he arrived on Court One for his second round match and were then royally entertained as Murray rolled over Rola 6-1 6-1 6-0 for his 15th win in a row at the All England Club since his defeat by Roger Federer in the 2012 final - and the easiest.

Last year's beaten finalist Novak Djokovic will be desperate to quell the latest outbreak of Murray mania should they meet in the semis next week, but on Wednesday the Serbian top seed was simply happy to squeeze past Czech veteran Radek Stepanek.

Djokovic was in control against the wily 35-year-old for two sets, but his unorthodox opponent dipped into his bag of tricks to snatch the third on a tiebreak and came within a whisker of dragging the 2011 champion into a nervy decider.

No wonder Djokovic, who showed remarkable sportsmanship by conceding a crucial point in the fourth set, looked a relieved man as he walked off with a 6-4 6-3 6-7(5) 7-6(5) victory.

"On the one hand it was fun to be part of, but on the other I should not have complicated my life," Djokovic said.

A year after the mayhem that saw seeds stumble and fall in all directions on what became known as Wipeout Wednesday, it proved a less dramatic third day this time, despite the best efforts of crowd-pleasing Stepanek.

But there were still plenty of upsets.   Continued...

Andy Murray of Britain hits a return to Blaz Rola of Slovenia during their men's singles tennis match at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London June 25, 2014.          REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett