TIME was of the essence for Andy Murray as he posted his most emphatic win at Wimbledon to reach the third round.
The defending champion was in sublime form on Court One, needing just an hour and 24 minutes to see off Slovenian Blaz Rola 6-1 6-1 6-0.
Murray had never previously dropped fewer than six games in a match at the All England Club, while it was his most one-sided result at a grand slam since losing just one game to Alberto Martin at the Australian Open in 2007.
Murray has yet to lose his serve this tournament after a comfortable win over David Goffin in round one, saving all five break points he has faced.
The third seed appears to have learned the lessons from the French Open, when he was kept on the court longer than he should have been in a succession of matches after failing to kill off opponents when he had the chance.
Murray said: “You try to finish matches as quickly as you can. If you have the momentum with you and you’re playing well, that’s what you need to try to do.
“I spoke a little bit about the French Open a few weeks ago, some of the matches where I was ahead, I didn’t finish the sets and stuff off as best as I would have liked.
“So I wanted to make sure here that when I had the momentum, when I was on top, that I finished the sets off. I did that well.”
Murray next meets 27th seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who is through to the third round at the All England Club for the first time.
Like Goffin, Rola was a first-time opponent for Murray, who was watched by the Duchess of Cornwall.
The world No 92 was playing in the main draw of a grand slam for only the third time and was no doubt disappointed not to have been given an outing on Centre Court.
Left-hander Rola had lost twice to British No 3 James Ward in the last month, at the French Open and Queen’s, so was not expected to trouble Murray.
But the mauling he received was surely worse than the 23-year-old Slovenian would have envisaged.
Top seed and title favourite Novak Djokovic had to dig deep to fend off a determined Radek Stepanek and reach the third round. A win against Murray and run to the semi-finals at the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club marked Stepanek down as a player in form on grass, and he tested Djokovic close to the limit.
Eventually the Serbian found a way to beat perhaps the most dangerous of the unseeded players in the draw, coming through 6-4 6-3 6-7 (7/5) 7-6 (7/5) on Centre Court.
Djokovic said: “I was two sets up and had some break-point chances in the third and I should have closed it out in the third set tie-breaker, but credit to him for fighting.”
Sergiy Stakhovsky upset Ernests Gulbis to reach the third round. Last year, Stakhovsky knocked out Roger Federer, ending the Swiss’s run of 26 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals.
This was not on the same scale, with 12th seed Gulbis happier on other surfaces while serve-and-volleyer Stakhovsky loves grass.
“Not even close,” said the 28-year-old when asked to compare the results.
“Roger and Ernests on grass is like Rafa and me on clay.”
But Stakhovksy was certainly impressive in a 6-4 6-3 7-6 (7/5) victory.
Seventh seed David Ferrer’s run of 10 consecutive grand slam quarter-finals ended when he was beaten by Andrey Kuznetsov.
The Russian, who won the junior title at the All England Club five years ago, edged a tight contest 6-7 (5/7) 6-0 3-6 6-3 6-2 for his first five-set win and first victory over a top-10 player.
It was a hugely impressive win from the 23-year-old, ranked 118th, not least because of Ferrer’s consistency at the slams in recent years.
Ferrer had been a doubt for the tournament because of stomach problems that forced him to pull out of the warm-up tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last week.
Queen’s champion Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov dismantled Australian Luke Saville 6-3 6-2 6-4.
He and defending champion Murray could collide in the quarter-finals, an appetising prospect, but Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov provides the next opposition for Dimitrov.
“I just want to say how honoured I was to play on the Centre Court,” said Dimitrov. “I think it’s every kid’s dream. I was just really happy to get out there and play a match like that.”