Murray comes through toughest test
It was billed as the toughest test of his Wimbledon defence so far, but Andy Murray rose to the challenge to dismiss big-serving South African Kevin Anderson in straight sets on Centre Court.
Aside from a second-set wobble, following the resumption of play after more showers had necessitated the closing of the roof, Murray's class told against 6ft 8in Anderson, who came into the tournament at a career-high No.18 in the world rankings.
Anderson, two sets down and with nothing to lose, began playing freely and put up a stern test in the third to force a tie-breaker, but Murray was more than equal to the task.
He saved a set point to battle through and book his place in the quarter-finals. Murray is still yet to drop a set at these Championships, triumphing 6-4 6-3 7-6(6) in two hours and 32 minutes.
"When it was outdoors I played very well, I was in a good position," said Murray. "When we came back he struck the ball better and served better. I was dropping the ball shorter than the first set and a half. I had to do more running. I was a bit tentative. But it's a good win, he was playing very well at the end.
"I'm just trying to stay concentrated when I'm out on the court, not worrying about everything that's said outside of it. When you play in front of a crowd like that it gives you a big lift and raises the intensity. It makes it hard for my opponent."
After strolling through the first week at SW19, a profligate break point conversion rate of 21 percent, taking four from 19 chances, may provide some cause for concern ahead of Murray's next test.
Standing on the other side of the net on Wednesday will be Queen's champion Grigor Dimitrov, who saw off Leonardo Mayer 6-4 7-6(6) 6-2 over on No.1 Court.
Dimitrov will be another step up in class entirely for Murray. The world No.13 has been quietly going about his Wimbledon business himself and finally looks ready to deliver on the early promise of his teenage years, when he garnered the nickname 'Baby Fed', with a maiden grand slam title.
Sir Alex Ferguson was in attendance to take in the win over Anderson and, given how the former Manchester United manager proved something of a good luck charm during his run to the Wimbledon title last year, Murray may wisely consider asking his fellow Scot back to the Royal Box on Wednesday.
For now, though, Murray - who has only been on court for seven hours and 33 minutes so far throughout the tournament - can put his feet up.
"It's good to get off in straight sets," he said. "Now I can rest up and get ready for the quarters."
After mum Judy missed Murray's third-round win against Roberto Bautista Agut to watch brother Jamie in the doubles instead, she was back on Centre Court to see him this time. "Jamie wasn't playing so she didn't have a choice to make, thankfully," quipped Murray.
Anderson held his first service game comfortably but Murray got the key early breakthrough he needed, bringing up three break points at the next opportunity and taking the third after his opponent went long.
Murray took Anderson to deuce at 4-2 but couldn't claw out a double break, though he took his second set point at the 41-minute mark.
Anderson's confidence appeared to be shaken, missing a simple overhead on top of the net to give Murray three break points at the start of the second set. He managed to save all three with Murray dumping two more chances to break into the net.
A 114mph second serve helped set up Anderson to save a sixth, Murray's unorthodox return with his racquet placed over his chest dispatched quickly by the South African on his forehand.
But Murray pounced at the seventh time of asking and got the double break to open up a 3-0 lead in the second set just before the players were brought off court due to the rain.
When play resumed, however, Anderson looked a different player. After working his way to break point, Anderson slammed one into the tape and it dropped the right side of the net. Murray got there for the return but couldn't lift the ball over.
The Scot had an immediate chance to recover his three-game advantage in the second set, but could only find the net on break point before Anderson closed out the game to hold.
Murray then found himself defending another break point and played with fire as he clipped the line with a 96mph second serve before bailing himself out to hold for 4-2.
Both men then held comfortably but at 30-30 on his next serve, Anderson resorted to staying back as he had done in the first set. Murray forced the error to earn a set point before Anderson sliced wide of the tramlines.
From the start of the third set, Anderson began to impose himself again by coming to the net and taking the game to Murray. Trailing 4-3 in the third, Anderson held firm by saving five break points to hold.
The third set went to a tie-break and Murray picked off Anderson for the first mini-break and a 2-1 lead, firing past him with a forehand winner on the stretch as the South African bounded forward.
Anderson hit straight back, however, though fired wide at 3-3 before Murray passed him again. However, a poor second serve from Murray got the treatment it deserved with Anderson closing to 5-4.
Anderson then brought up a set point but shanked his return, before Murray reeled off the next two points to seal the victory.