Wimbledon 2021 tennis - 'Most excited I've ever seen him on Centre Court' - Andy Murray wows Mats Wilander
Centre Court witnessed another memorable recovery from Andy Murray as the two-time Wimbledon champion secured his place in the third round with a typically tense five-set, 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-4 6-2, win over Germany's Oscar Otte. Murray could easily have lost the match after conceding the second and third sets, but his fighting spirit saw him through and Mats Wilander was very impressed.
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Murray looked poised to bow out of his long-awaited return to SW19 as his 27-year-old opponent won the second and third sets and appeared to be in total command.
However the 34-year-old, who has seemingly endured no end of injury woes over the last few years, delighted the Centre Court crowd as he roared back to win in five sets. Much like in his first-round clash, the closing of the roof mid-match provided a perfect reset for the Brit and he returned from the delay a different player.
The two-time champion had limped off the same court following a quarter-final defeat to Sam Querrey in 2017 - then as the top seed - and had not been back since with hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019, so this was another moment of jubilation and relief on his return to his favourite stage. Eurosport expert Wilander believes it is the most excited he has seen Murray on Centre Court.
"Even when he won Wimbledon and when he won at the Olympics, this is the most he has engaged the crowd," Wilander told Eurosport.
Incredible - this is the most excited I've ever seen him be on Wimbledon's Centre Court.
"In a way, does that show that perhaps he couldn't believe that he was out there and he was winning in five sets at Wimbledon again? Amazing. It was incredible and so much fun to see him play.
"[After the roof was closed] He came out and he was playing very aggressively, he was going for his shots. It's amazing and the roof closing really helped him. Experience helps.
"That's the wildest I've seen a crowd and a player be since Nick Kyrgios in Australia. To them, this is the Wimbledon final. When Murray steps on the Centre Court, it's like a final."
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates in his Men's Singles Second Round match against Oscar Otte of Germany during Day Three of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
This was not a victory without a scare: Murray slipped over on the increasingly notorious Centre Court turf on numerous occasions and shouted about the "dangerous" surface after sliding down yet again deep in the tense fifth set.
Thankfully for Murray, he was able to gather himself without significant harm and close out the match. The break for the roof to be closed on Centre Court certainly appeared to help give him a much-needed reset once again and Otte could not muster the necessary resistance late in the deciding set.
The atmosphere only got more intense as the fans willed Murray on to victory after the break for the roof to be closed, and he finally sealed the deal at nearly 11pm UK time to give him and his camp a great deal of relief.
For Otte, this will certainly be a case of what could have been. At two sets up he appeared to be flying with all the momentum and a spring in his step, but the wait for the roof to be closed seemed to break his rhythm.
Murray simply hung in there when it counted and used the raucous Centre Court crowd to his advantage as he grabbed the decisive break of serve in the fifth set and simply refused to let it slip.
The 34-year-old will next take on Canada's Denis Shapovalov - the 10th seed - who was afforded the luxury of a few days off after he benefited from a walkover in the second round.
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates victory after winning his Men's Singles Second Round match against Oscar Otte of Germany during Day Three of The Championships - Wimbledon 2021
Image credit: Getty Images
Shapovalov will certainly represent a much bigger threat for the two-time Wimbledon champion when the pair lock horns on Friday, but Murray is certainly up for the challenge.
The Brit will feel relieved to have come through the marathon match relatively unscathed after his falls on the slick turf but will now have to recover quickly for round three and a serious test.