WIMBLEDON, England – Laying face-down for a postmatch massage as midnight approached, Andy Murray was thrilled he managed to complete his third-round victory at Wimbledon on Saturday night.
Because otherwise, he and Marcos Baghdatis would have had to come back Monday — when everyone is supposed to be playing in the fourth round.
With the Centre Court roof closed and the lights on, Murray wrapped up his 7-5, 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 win over Baghdatis at 11:02 p.m., four minutes past the latest previous finish at the All England Club. The deadline for stopping play under the roof is 11 p.m., but the match was allowed to continue while Murray served it out at love in the final game.
"I was under the impression I was stopping at 11, regardless of what the score was — even if it was in the middle of a game," Murray said, speaking to a handful of reporters. "But, yeah, obviously, glad that I managed to get to the finish."
While some fans cheered raucously with each point Murray won down the stretch, hoping he will become the first British male champion at Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936, others shushed them, worried that too many delays because of noise might push play too late.
Did the time issue bother him down the stretch?
"If the set had been tighter, I think it would have been distracting," Murray said, "but because the momentum was kind of with me, I just wanted to keep it going and play fairly quickly. Whereas, I think, for him, it would have been better to slow it down a little bit."
There is no play scheduled on tournament's middle Sunday, so had he not concluded his victory, it would have been a long wait to resume. Plus, the winner would have been at a disadvantage as Week 2 progressed.
Instead, the fourth-seeded Murray will be out there for a fourth-round match Monday, just like everyone else, facing 16th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.
Cilic advanced by edging Sam Querrey of the United States 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-7 (3), 17-15 in a match that lasted 5 1/2 hours, the second-longest in Wimbledon history.
"It will be important for me to try to get off to a good start in the match against him," said Murray, who is 5-1 against Cilic. "If you are feeling a little bit tired and you go behind, it can be tough to come back."
Murray is a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, but hasn't made it to a final at Wimbledon, where he lost in the semifinals each of the past three years.
In 2010 and 2011, those defeats came against Rafael Nadal, who also beat Murray in the 2008 quarterfinals.
This year, Murray doesn't have to worry about facing Nadal, because the 11-time Grand Slam champion was upset in the second round.
"I didn't really speak to any of the players about it," Murray said, "but I'm sure everyone was very surprised."