x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Murray puts friendship on ice

The Briton will put his friendship aside on Centre Court tomorrow in a bid to continue his ruthless quest to reach the Wimbledon final.

Andy Murray will put his friendship aside on Centre Court tomorrow in a bid to continue his ruthless quest to reach the Wimbledon final. After a first week which could hardly have gone any better, Murray is pitched against Stanislas Wawrinka ? one of his biggest friends on the tennis tour ? in the fourth round. But while they practise regularly together and enjoy each other's company, Murray admits the Swiss No 2 will tomorrow be just another enemy to dispatch as clinically as possible. The Scot said: "It doesn't change anything for me. When you go to the court you're there to compete, regardless of whether you're friends or not. "You kind of know each other's games a little bit better than you might know some of the others that you don't hit with and don't see around that much. But it won't make a difference.

"I'd obviously love to get to the final. But there is still a lot of tennis to be played. "You think about it (playing in the final) three or four months before the tournament starts. But it's not what I'm thinking about. I'll be concentrating on Stan and trying to get through the next match." The pair played in the fourth round of the US Open last year in a night match which Murray dominated, winning in straight sets and allowing Wawrinka just seven games. The 24-year-old from Lausanne broke into the top 10 in the world rankings last year, although currently he resides at number 18. He also won the gold medal in the doubles, playing with Roger Federer, at the Beijing Olympics. As such he represents a significant step up in class for Murray, who showed some nerves in dropping a set in his first-round victory against the American Robert Kendrick but who since then has been in imperious form in defeating Latvia's Ernests Gulbis and Serbia's Viktor Troicki.

Murray, who has been whiling away his time off court watching the reality television show Big Brother, continues to spout the mantra that it is getting through which is important, saying: "I didn't care how badly or how well I played." But his serving has been acclaimed by John McEnroe as never having been better while his authority on court gets more impressive better with each match. Murray admitted: "I've served very well so far. Against tougher opposition that's going to be even more important. I think I'm able to raise my game to the quality of the opposition and the sort of situation. I'll try to do that on Monday. "He's (Wawrinka) a very solid all-court player. He's got a solid serve, moves well, is good off the baseline. He doesn't come to the net too much but he won the Olympic gold doubles so he can obviously volley reasonably well.

"He does everything good. He doesn't have one shot in particular that's a huge weakness. I'm going to have to play a tough match to beat him." Wawrinka reached the fourth round at Wimbledon last year and the third round in 2006, but he admits he learnt most from his defeat against Murray at Flushing Meadows last year. "It was my first night-time session at the US Open," explained Wawrinka. "And it was very hard to play there for the first time. "It was not a good experience but I learnt a lot from that match and I'm happy to have another great experience on Monday. I have to be very aggressive and if my serve is good I have a chance." The Swiss star was also happy to suspend their friendship for a day. "Last week we practised a lot together," he said. "But when we are in the match you focus on the game and try to win. That's it. "He's playing great. But I worked a lot in the winter and I'm happy with my game. My serve is better and I have improved my game a lot at the net."

*PA Sport