LONDON: Defending champion Andy Murray’s tranquil progress through Wimbledon’s opening week has been eerily calm.
No pesky upstarts trying to knock him off his perch, no tumbles on the lush lawns, no niggles from the back that needed surgery last year and no question marks about his form which, for the first three rounds, has been imperious.
So straightforward were his victories over David Goffin, Blaz Rola and Roberto Bautista Agut, during which he dropped a total of 19 games, that post-match news conferences have resembled friendly chats about everything from rescuing stray dogs to favourite vacations and the World Cup soccer in Brazil.
As grand slam tournaments go, it has all been a breeze.
After the calm there often follows a storm, however, and with a second successive title only four victories away Murray and his fans will be scanning the horizon for looming dangers.
Rewind 12 months and it was a similar story. Then, the Briton was untroubled until the quarter-finals when his quest to become the first home player to win the men’s singles for 77 years turned into a white-knuckle ride.
First he had to come from two sets down against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and then he was in a heap of trouble against powerhouse Pole Jerzy Janowicz before reaching the final where he beat Novak Djokovic in three memorable sets.
Things could get more tricky when Murray faces big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in the last 16 today.
Anderson, seeded 20, has belted 63 aces in three rounds and while his serve is his big weapon he is also more than capable off the ground. World number five Murray knows his first big test is around the corner.
“I haven’t used up too much energy which is good,” said the Scot who will feature in the second match on Centre Court today.
“It will be a tough match,” Murray said. “He’s a big guy with a big game. He’s played some very good tennis this year.
“It’s probably been his best year on the tour so far in terms of consistency. I’ll need to play a tough match to beat him.”
Should he win, Murray could then come up against tournament dark horse Grigor Dimitrov who has continued the form that saw him win the warm-up event at nearby Queen’s Club.
The Bulgarian plays rising Argentine Leonardo Mayer next.