London: Andy Murray battled back from a two sets to one deficit to defeat German qualifier Oscar Otte and reach the Wimbledon third round yesterday.
Former number one Murray triumphed 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 over the 151st-ranked Otte under the roof of Centre Court.
The British star, playing in the singles event for the first time since 2017 and ranked a lowly 118 after a battle against hip and groin injuries, avoided what would have been his earliest exit from the tournament.
He will face Canadian 10th seed Denis Shapovalov for a place in the last 16.
Otte had played Monday and Tuesday to see off fellow qualifier Arthur Rinderknech with that match decided by a final set tie-breaker, 13-12. The 7,500 fans allowed inside Centre Court as part of the government’s event research programme had been subdued until Murray - who thought in 2019 he would have to retire because of a serious hip injury - urged them for more support from the fourth set onwards.
Then it turned into an electric atmosphere as a pumped-up Murray played himself towards victory, backed by the sound of singing and chanting from the partisan crowd.
“I enjoyed the end of the match. The middle part not so much,” said Murray, who has had a series of niggling injuries since having career-saving hip resurfacing surgery.
“What an atmosphere to play in at the end. The whole crowd was amazing but there were a few guys in there getting me fired up. I needed everyone’s help.”