ANDY MURRAY ADMITTED he was relieved to give a royal command performance as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge saw him cruise into the Olympics semi-finals with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Spanish 11th seed Nicolas Almagro on Thursday.
Murray’s last appearance in front of the royal couple ended with Catherine wiping away a tear as the Scot sobbed on Centre Court following his Wimbledon final defeat against Roger Federer last month.
But Murray, who will face world number two Novak Djokovic or French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last four, ensured there were cheers rather than tears on Court One with a dominant win that took only 59 minutes.
Murray conceded he has been nervous when playing in front of royalty in the past, but his Wimbledon experiences helped him focus solely on beating Almagro.
“It’s always nice playing in front of royalty,” Murray said. “They came a couple times during Wimbledon as well and I probably dealt with that a bit better today than I did the first couple of times.
“I think it’s great for tennis when you can get people like that coming along, it helps raise the profile.
“From what I’ve seen and what I’ve been around, the whole of the country’s got right into the Olympics, which is great.
“It makes a big difference to play in front of a home crowd. It does add a little bit of extra pressure, but it helps raise your game as well.”
Murray is now just one win away from playing for at least a bronze medal and he added: “It’s great. That was the goal coming into the tournament.
“It’s nice to get the opportunity. If I win one of the next two matches, I’ll give myself a shot at the medal. But obviously it’s going to be a tough match against Jo or Novak.”
Murray teased Almagro out of position with clever shot selection before breaking to love for a 3-2 lead in the opener.
The Scot’s confidence looked sky-high as he somehow scrambled outside the tramlines to bend a winner round the outside of the net and back in on Almagro’s side of the court.
And Murray hammered home his advantage with some precision serving, sending down nine aces in a first set he closed out with ease.
Almagro called for treatment on his right shoulder in the changeover and he still seemed troubled by the problem when Murray broke to love in the opening game of the second set.
The Spaniard was growing increasingly frustrated and angrily punched his racquet out of his hand after Murray broke again with a stunning forehand cross-court winner.
By that point Murray’s semi-final place was in the bag as the royal couple joined the raucous crowd in a Mexican wave as their favourite finished off Almagro in ruthless style.
(c) AFP, 2012