LONDON — When a 19-stroke exchange ended with Andy Murray’s Wimbledon opponent slapping a forehand into the net, thousands of Centre Court spectators rose in unison.
They applauded Murray’s first service break. They screamed for joy. They waved their Union Jacks and Scottish flags. It was only a third-round match, merely 12 minutes and three games old, yet to some that tiny early edge seemed massively meaningful.
So imagine the reaction, louder and livelier, when the second-seeded Murray finished off his 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 32nd-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain less than two hours later Friday to advance to Week 2.
And then try to fathom what would happen if Murray won the final point of The Championships, as the Grand Slam tournament is known around here, to become the first British man in 77 years to hoist the trophy.
“You need to be professional enough to not let that stuff bother you and just concentrate on each match,” Murray said. “I did a good job of that today. I played well. My best match of the tournament, so far.”
The locals’ hopes that Murray will win the title rose after losses this week by seven-time champion Roger Federer, two-time winner Rafael Nadal and two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
All were in Murray’s half of the draw. Their departures mean the most daunting obstacle in Murray’s path — until a potential final against No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, anyway — might be surging expectations.
“There’s a lot more pressure on me now, with them being out,” Murray said. “I mean, I don’t read the papers and stuff. But there are papers in the locker room, so you see some of the headlines and stuff. It’s not that helpful.”
Nadal’s first-round exit, for example, was viewed mainly through the prism of how that result helped Murray, who could have faced the 12-time major champion in the semifinals.
“Adios Rafa. Hello Andy. Wimbledon dreams again,” read a headline in The Times of London. The Daily Mail’s take: “Great start for Andy — Rafa’s out.”
All in all, then, Friday was a perfectly British day. The lone other remaining singles player from the host country, 19-year-old Laura Robson, reached the third round at Wimbledon for the first time, defeating Mariana Duque-Marino of Colombia, 6-4, 6-1.
Speaking about the anyone-can-beat-anyone feel, 37th-ranked Jurgen Melzer of Austria said: “There has been so much talk about it, you cannot ignore it.”
He did manage to put a stop to it, however, at least as far as Sergiy Stakhovsky was concerned. Two days after serving and volleying his way past defending champion Federer, Stakhovsky played like a guy ranked 116th, losing 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 to Melzer.
“I think I just played stupid,” Stakhovsky said.
Portugal’s Michelle Larcher de Brito, who eliminated Maria Sharapova in the second round, then bowed out, 7-5, 6-2, against 104th-ranked Karin Knapp of Italy in the third.
“That was a huge win for me,” Larcher de Brito said. “But it was tough for me to hang in there today.”
Wild-card entry Alison Riske gave the U.S. a fourth woman in the round of 32, beating Urszula Radwanska of Poland, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.