Mikhail Youzhny secured a swift, straight-sets victory - 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 - over Viktor Troicki in just two hours and seven minutes in their third round match on No.2 Court.
Despite a 3-2 head-to-head lead in favour of Viktor Troicki, this was to be the first grass-court encounter between the players. Having faced a testing five set encounter against Vasek Pospisil in the previous round, a slow start may have been predicted for the world No.26. However, despite Troicki winning 100 percent of his first service points – including four aces – the Serb was unable to tame the ruthless Russian, who took the opening set 6-3 in just 22 minutes.
Youzhny, whose best Grand Slam performance came in a semi-final at the US Open in 2006, held his opening service game with ease in just two minutes. In reply, Troicki was unable to any find rhythm and unable to hold his opening service game after a heavy forehand evaded the baseline, handing Youzhny a two-game lead. Youzhny, who is appearing in his 49th Grand Slam at The Championships, continued to impress, holding his next service game to love, prompting an early wake up call for the Serbian.
Troicki responded the best he could by holding his next two service games although he was unable stop the Russian sealing the first set, with a serve and forehand volley epitomising the Russian’s efficient performance thus far.
Troicki, who is bidding to reach the fourth round for the second consecutive year – capitalised on some loose returning by Youzhny in the third game of the second set, taking a 2-1 lead on serve although was still unable to pose a threat on his own having failed to earn a break point in the match thus far. Furthermore, a mistimed backhand from the 27-year-old brought Youzhny back level.
Troicki’s serving was beginning to gather momentum although he was pegged back to deuce in the fifth game following some gritty play from Youzhny. The 30-year-old’s second break point came after a strenuous rally deep behind the baseline, eventually forcing a forehand error by Troicki. Another long rally ended with the Serb misjudging a bounce on the baseline, handing another break of serve to the man aiming for his 53rd Tour win on grass, putting him in command midway through the set.
Following a quick hold from Troicki, Youzhny was serving for a two sets lead. A deep forehand volley long by Troicki followed by a tidy forehand volley by Youzhny gave the former world No.8 set point, which was claimed following Troicki’s his eighth unforced error of the set.
Youznhy took an immediate break in the third set with a supreme cross-court forehand leaving the Serb rooted to the centre of the court. Despite an assured performance so far, the Russian was evidently struggling with an ankle problem, requiring medical treatment before the resumption of play on No.2 Court. Yet, this didn’t seem to hamper the No.26 seed as he claimed yet another hold of serve.
Just as it seemed that the third set would be as routine as the two before them Troicki secured his first break point – at the third time of asking – following a poor backhand by Youzhny. Despite being taken to deuce in the following game, Troicki held serve to go 3-2 up in the set.
With the spectators siding with the Serb – in hope of seeing more tennis – the former World No.12 responded with yet another serve and volley taking a 5-4 lead in the third set. A ferocious forehand return in the following game certainly inflated the crowd’s hope. However, it was Youzhny who clinched the game with a forehand volley at the net.
He then secured his fourth break point of the match with a stunning cross-court backhand pass with Troicki looking to approach the net, leaving the Russian a hold of serve away from a third consecutive Fourth Round appearance at The Championships. Youzhny made no mistake of victory with his fourth ace of the match.
Having made the quarter-finals of The Championships last year, Youzhny will now have to overcome crowd favourite and world No.2 Murray.
“You know, he play well. Will be really tough match for me” said Youzhny. “I need to be just ready to play and enjoying the Centre Court, because not every year you can play against top players on the Centre Court.” Asked if he would get any sleepless night over the British No.1, Youzhny added, “Don’t worry, I will sleep normal.
20:24...But boy, it was a barrow-load of fun. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as we did. Thank you for all your messages throughout, you've been the glue holding us together as the edges frayed amid the madness. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for us Brits to raise a toast to Andy Murray and Fred Perry. British sporting legends both.
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