By Mitch Phillips
LONDON (Reuters) – The crowd favorite faced the crowed pleaser and everyone went home happy as Andy Murray saw off the spirited, unconventional but never really serious challenge of Dustin Brown in a sun-drenched Wimbledon Centre Court clash on Wednesday.
Brown has dined out on his second-round Wimbledon victory over Rafa Nadal two years ago, though he has never really since come close to reproducing the sustained brilliance that stunned the Spaniard and he lost 6-3 6-2 6-2 to top seed Murray.
The Jamaican-turned German, with massive dreadlocks and a smile to match, nevertheless continues to play the game the way he likes, and the way very few others ever consider these days.
Delicate sliced approaches, audacious drop shots from the baseline, thumping drive volleys from mid-court and lobs galore thrilled the crowd and made Murray work for everything, particularly in a well-balanced first set.
Brown’s problem, however, was that he missed as many as he made, gifting Murray points alongside those the defending champion had to work for to win.
For a Wimbledon crowd who these days are usually served generally predictable baseline fare, it was a rare treat and a flashback to the glory days of John McEnroe et al, when deftness and cute angles could still outwit raw power.
One rally in the sixth game of the first set summed up the day as the two men exchanged a series of quickfire volleys, angled drop shots and huge, hanging lobs, before Murray took the point, with Brown applauded the winning shot.
“Today I had the feeling it made no difference what I did,” Brown said.
“If I stayed back, if I attacked, if I came in, if I chipped, if I hit the ball and came in. He pretty had much a good answer for everything.”
Two years ago Brown went for everything against Nadal and most of it came off. On Wednesday he was far too inconsistent and even with his suspect hip, Murray ran down most of his drop shots.
“Against Rafa I did it for four sets and won the match but today I didn’t find a solution how to bother him at all,” Brown said.
“The pressure builds up. Makes you hit lines, makes you be very aggressive,” he added.
“Anything I did, just seemed like he didn’t really care. I hit good volleys but he had an answer for everything. As I told him at the end – just too good.”