ANDY Murray knew the day would come, probably sooner rather than later.
He’s the last Briton standing in the Wimbledon singles after charging into the third round at the expense of bemused Belgian Xavier Malisse.
It came close to a rout as the British number one sped to a 6-4 6-2 6-2 victory in just one hour and 33 minutes.
There was even time for a spell of on-court football with a tennis ball amid a a spot of umpire confusion at match point.
Murray then went home to walk his dog, a 12-week-old border terrier called Maggie – after the Rod Stewart hit Maggie May – having hounded his opponent at every turn.
He said it had been an almost perfect start to his Wimbledon campaign. “I feel very confident winning two matches in straight sets. Can’t start much better.
“Serve’s good. Return’s good. Moving well. You know, the more matches you play you’re going to get more confidence in all of your shots – it’s been good so far.”
The No 12 seed has also learned to deal with the attention of being the lone British hope at SW19. “It’s almost a good thing – this year hasn’t been that difficult in comparision to previous years.”
Watched by chef Albert Roux in the royal box, the 21-year-old served up a dish fit for the packed Centre Court
There were even stirrings of an Anydmonium Andemic with a chorus of: “We love you Andy” just before the Scot claimed the match with his 16th ace.
Locked out of his flat this week, he had the key to the match from the very first point.
All the luck was on Murray’s side, including several net cords. But so were a variety of impressive serves, winners, returns and drop shots.
The victory takes him through to a third round meeting on Saturday with dangerous German veteran Tommy Haas.
Former Wimbledon semi-finalist Malisse said he could see Murray reaching the same stage. “If he plays like this, there’s a chance.”
British qualifier Chris Eaton, 20, the lowest ranked player left in the men’s singles, threatened to cause an upset against Russian Dmitry Tursunov.
Like his Vauxhall Astra, the Court One crowd were clapped out as their new ace took his equally hard-serving opponent to a tie break in the first set, eventually losing 7-6 6-2 6-4.
Having collected £17,000 for the second round defeat, the Surrey-based number 661 in the world, who had to win six matches just to qualify for Wimbledon, was cheered from the court.
He described the support he received as “amazing” adding: “I’m pretty upset that I lost – but I don’t know if I could do any more.
“It’s a dream to play Wimbledon. I gave everything today. I can take quite a few positives from this tournament.”
Big shock of the day in the ladies’ draw was the exit of third seed Maria Sharapova.
But the 2004 champion refused to make excuses for her stunning 6-2 6-4 loss to fellow Russian Alla Kudryavtseva.
“I guess it wasn’t my day. She did everything better than I did – I was just pretty tentative,” she said.
“This girl that beat me today, she might not win the tournament, but she beat me, and it probably made her tournament.
“That’s the way things go.”
Kudryavtseva, whose father was a world champion wrestler, revealed her win was partly-inspired by Sharapova’s much-hyped tuxedo-style tennis top and shorts.
“I don’t like her outfit – it was one of the motivations to beat her.”
Venus Williams defeated British number one Anne Keothavong 7-5 6-2 but had plenty of problems along the way.
After a shaky start, Keothavong, 24, from Hackney, traded shots with the defending champion, before being overpowered.
She described the experience of her first Centre Court match as “absolutely brilliant” and thought it could have been even better.
“I tried my hardest out there. I really believed I could have won that match.
“Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to play on Centre Court and it’s been a dream of mine. I hope there are more opportunities in the future.”
The shocks continued as sixth seed Andy Roddick crashed out this evening against Janko Tipsarevic.
Roddick has just been into the press room and to say he was devastated would be something of an understatement.
It’s almost dark outside and the sprinklers are on across the lawns of SW19.
All in all, quite a day.
*The attendance for today was 40,881 – up 1,111 on 2007.