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Murray’s stroke entertains the Queen

Andy Murray put on a show for Queen Elizabeth II as the British fourth seed crushed Jarkko Nieminen, while America’s John Isner finally won the longest match in tennis history.

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Murray had the task of entertaining the Queen on her first visit to the All England Club since 1977 and the Scot rose to the challenge with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 second round victory that earned a clash with French 23rd seed Gilles Simon.

Joining Murray in the third round was world number one Rafael Nadal, who survived a gruelling examination against Holland’s Robin Haase, ranked 104th, to win 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3.

Nadal dropped sets at a Grand Slam for the first time in nine matches, but the French Open champion battled back from the brink to earn a meeting with Phillip Petzschner or Lukasz Kubot.

Defending women’s champion Serena Williams took just 49 minutes to breeze into a third round meeting with Dominika Cibulkova after routing Russia’s Anna Chakvetadze 6-0, 6-1.

As if Nadal’s win and the Queen’s presence weren’t enough to excite the crowds here, the conclusion of the historic fifth set between Isner and Nicolas Mahut added further drama to a memorable day.

A string of records were blown away as French qualifier Mahut and 23rd seed Isner came off court on Wednesday at 59-59 in the final set, having slugged it out for 10 hours when play was suspended as they ran out of daylight.

That last set itself was longer than the previous longest match ever played – six hours and 33 minutes clash at the 2004 French Open, when Fabrice Santoro beat fellow Frenchman Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 16-14.

Despite the draining effects of their heroic battle, a winner had to be found and the weary players, having resumed their first round match on Court 18, were finally able to rest their aching limbs when Isner’s passing shot clinched a 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (7/9), 7-6 (7/3), 70-68 win.

After 11 hours and five minutes of gruelling play, Isner’s relief was clear as he dropped his racquet and fell to the ground after hitting the winner.

Isner was scheduled to play in the doubles later on but he said: “That’s kind of a mean joke. I’ll go back to the locker room and see what happens.”

Meanwhile, Murray insisted he had coped well with the potential distraction of playing in front of the Queen.

“It’s obviously an honor and a privilege to play in front of the Queen,” Murray said. “It’s probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for all of us.

“I don’t know whether she’ll be coming in the next few years, but I definitely enjoyed it.”

Attention had been fixed on Centre Court as the Queen was given a standing ovation when she appeared in the royal box ahead of Murray’s match.

The Queen, in a powder blue outfit with matching hat, was warmly greeted by the crowd when she made her entrance and moments later Murray and Nieminen walked out before putting their bags down, turning and bowing to the royal box.

Earlier, the Queen had walked through the grounds to huge cheers and mingled with tennis legends past and present.

The Queen was driven home after the Murray match, meaning she missed women’s third seed Caroline Wozniacki beating Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen 6-4, 6-3 on Centre Court.

French 10th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov in five sets, while Robin Soderling, the Swedish sixth seed, and Queen’s Club champion Sam Querrey also went through.

In the women’s singles, 2004 Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova cruised into the third round with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Romania’s Ioana Raluca Olaru.

Sharapova was joined in the last 32 by Polish seventh seed Agnieszka Radwanska and Italian 10th seed Flavia Pennetta.

There was a surprise defeat for Zheng Jie, a former semi-finalist here, as the Chinese 23rd seed went down to Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

Former French and US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova also bowed out, beaten 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 by Australia’s Anastasia Rodionova.

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