|Place: all england dates: June 28 – July 11|
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Britain’s Andy Murray defied the odds once again when he reached the third round of Wimbledon by defeating Germany’s Oscar Otti in another thriller that ended under the lights of the Central Court.
The Scotsman led a group and broke but the momentum shifted to Otte, a SW19 novice ranked 151st in the world.
Murray, 34, looked exhausted as Ooty won the third set to lead 2-1 before darkness forced the pair off the court.
But with the crowd behind him, Murray battled to win 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2.
The 7,500 fans allowed inside Central Court as part of the government’s juvenile research program were subjected to it until Murray – who thought in 2019 he would have to retire with a serious hip injury – urged them for more support from Group 4 onwards.
Then it turned into a thrilling atmosphere as Murray played himself toward victory, buoyed by the singing and cheering sounds of the partisan crowd.
“I enjoyed the end of the match. The middle part isn’t much,” said Murray, who has had a series of nagging injuries since undergoing career-saving surgery.
“What an atmosphere to play in at the end. The whole crowd was amazing but there were a few players that made me really excited. I needed everyone’s help.”
It was another great evening for Murray at the All England Club, just 48 hours after the two-time champion beat Georgian 24th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Like that match, Murray came back refreshed — mentally, physically and tactically — from forcibly breaking the roof to shut it down.
After the duo returned to the field from a 15-minute pause, Murray won seven of the next nine games for control.
There was still time for more tension and excitement. Murray struggled to hold his 5-2 serve, crossing the line with an extended shot that left even his wife watching Kim shake her head in disbelief.
Then he scored a stunning victory with a moment of brilliance. In the first two match points, with an Ooty frontman racing, Murray produced a perfect inch lob that left him grinning and shaking his head as the center court erupted.
Now Murray will take a step forward when he faces Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov in the third round on Friday.
Shapovalov, 22, will be resting well after being knocked out on Wednesday with a rib injury to Spanish second-round opponent Pablo Andujar.
Murray answers questions about recovery in style
When he made his Wimbledon debut in four years on Monday, Murray delivered his most impressive showing since returning from serious hip surgery in January 2019 that he believed would end his career.
The next question was whether he would be able to recover enough to play another Grand Slam match 48 hours later.
Murray talked about how he could “barely walk” the day after beating Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka at last year’s US Open – the last time he played five sets.
That’s due to a nagging thigh injury that has continued to plague 118th-ranked Murray in the nine months since.
Encouragingly, he was able to train at the All England Club on Tuesday and initially appeared to be moving well against 27-year-old Ooty.
Murray moved through gears well to take the opening set with a second break, then appeared to be in complete control as he broke again to lead 3-1 in the second set.
A dirty game allowed the German to eliminate that on the spot, and playing with more aggressiveness and confidence, Ooty broke 4-3 with the help of three impressive winners.
When Ooty was finishing the set, Murray became even more desperate. The approach we’d seen throughout his career became more intense, while his body language had a sense of surrender.
The atmosphere of the Central Court became subdued and a virtual silence that – other than Otti’s celebration of celebration – greeted the end of the third.
Murray had barely rallied the crowd until that point, but suddenly seemed to realize that he needed to nurture a higher atmosphere.
The crowd committed to that and it inspired Murray, who was now landing winners and hitting balls he couldn’t in the middle of the match.
“I had to do something different,” he said. “I started getting my shots more, and I started dictating more points.”
“Because of the lack of matches I often didn’t make the right decisions.”
Not bad for a guy with a metal hip.
Britain’s second seed Heather Watson joked that Murray’s performance was “not bad for a man with a metallic hip”, while FA Cup captain Anne Keothavong said he was an “absolute legend”.
“Now that’s what you call entertainment,” added Great Britain Cup captain Leon Smith.