Andy Murray may not have been looking his best when he met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge yesterday but he gave a performance fit for royalty to reach the quarter-finals of Wimbledon for the fourth successive year.
Talented Frenchman Richard Gasquet had been expected to provide Murray with a stiff test but, after coming through a tight first set, the fourth seed dominated to triumph 7-6 (7/3) 6-3 6-2.
Unlike last year’s much-anticipated appearance of the Queen at the All England Club, the visit of Prince William and his wife was kept a secret and even the players did not know the newlyweds would be in the Royal Box.
That left an unshaven Murray feeling somewhat embarrassed when he met the royal couple after his match.
The 24-year-old said: “If I’d known they were coming, I would have shaved.
“I was thinking to myself as I came off that I was sweaty and very hairy. I said to them, ‘I’m sorry, I’m a bit sweaty’.
“For me, those things are always quite difficult because there’s a lot of people around, so it’s not the most natural way to be introduced to people. But it was very nice to get to meet them.”
Neither player bowed when walking on to Centre Court but Murray spontaneously decided to do so after the match, turning to the Royal Box after acknowledging the crowd.
He said: “I was obviously very happy after the match. I think that was the right thing to do. I hadn’t planned on doing it. When the Queen came to our match last year we were told she was coming and that we would bow when we went on and off the court. But today we weren’t told anything, so it was just off the cuff.”
Murray will next play Feliciano Lopez who came through a five-set thriller against Lukasz Kubot.
Kubot, ranked 49 places below Lopez, put himself on course for a shock victory when he took the first two sets - the second of which came after a tight tie-break.
The Polish qualifier then had two chances to seal the match in a third-set tie-break, but squandered them both to lose the set. Buoyed after making his way back into the match, Lopez edged the fourth set to level the match and set up a thrilling finale.
The match seemed poised to go on long in to the evening as both players held serve well until Kubot lost his service game in the 12th to hand Lopez a 3-6 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (9/7) 7-5 7-5 win.
Novak Djokovic, seeded second, swatted aside 19th seed Michael Llodra in a 6-3 6-3 6-3 win. Roger Federer marched into his 29th consecutive grand slam quarter-final with a four-set victory over Russian 18th seed Mikhail Youzhny. He will now play Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.