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Andy Murray takes a bow ahead of showdown with mummy’s boy Feliciano ‘Deliciano’ López


For three, four or possibly five sets on Centre Court on Wednesday, there is going to have to be a moratorium on the cooing, the flirting and the sweet nothings on Twitter.

As mortifying as Andy Murray finds it that his mother has a crush on his opponent, Judy’s hot beams of affection for Feliciano ‘Deliciano’ López will have to be dimmed for the day, when her son will be attempting to reach the semi-finals for the third consecutive year.

Here at the great grass-court reality show, Murray should be able to deal with any outside distractions – on the occasion of his fourth-round match against Richard Gasquet he had the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watching him from the Royal Box, and yet the fourth seed played as though he wants a knighthood.

In the 125th edition of these Championships, this is new territory for a British player at Wimbledon of encountering his mother’s crush and Murray has requested that his mother “stops that nonsense”, as “it’s making me sick, it’s disgusting”.

All this off-court awkwardness and embarrassment should not be allowed to obscure the reality that there are worse opponents for Murray to be meeting at this stage of the Championships than the world No 44. Though López is a very respectable grass-court player, and the Spanish leftie will be making his third appearance in the quarter-finals, the expectation will be that Murray will make the last four again, where he would expect to play Rafael Nadal, the world No 1 and the defending champion. It will be Murray’s fifth meeting with López, and he is yet to lose to him.

While López, who had beaten Andy Roddick in the previous round, had to come from two sets down to defeat Polish qualifier Lukasz Kubot, the unshaven, uninhibited Murray played with considerable poise against Gasquet.

Murray is many things, but one thing he is not is a republican, and he turned in one of the most accomplished grass-court performances of his career. Then he took a bow for his efforts. Or at least he should have done. The bow was actually for the newly-weds. “I thought that was good, but I need to improve – the best players ever are still in the tournament, so I need to get even better,” Murray said of his 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

A year ago, when William’s grandmother came to the tennis for the first time in more than 30-odd summers, Murray annihilated Finland’s Jarkko Nieminen, so he is yet to drop a set at this tournament when he has the Windsors in attendance.

On the previous occasions that these two had met at the slams Murray dropped the first two sets before coming back to beat Gasquet in five, but this was much more straightforward for the Briton as he played his first outdoor match on Centre Court at these Championships.

Murray could hardly be blamed for arriving with a geography teacher’s facial fuzz – he would have shaved if anyone had told him that the royals would be there, and that he would be meeting them afterwards. His bow was, technically, an improvement on last year’s in front of the Queen.

There were three actual or would-be kings on Centre Court: Billie Jean King, the future King of England, and someone hoping to become the future king of the grass. The All England Club and the British monarchy are two institutions which, in many ways, are still scarred by the same year. It was in 1936, the year of the abdication crisis, that a British man last became the All England Club Single-Handed Champion of the World (the Wimbledon champion). Kate and William are much more tennis literate than the Queen, and they would surely have recognised that they were watching a Briton capable of winning this tournament.

Though the roof was deployed once again for a Murray match, just as it had been for his two appearances on Centre Court last week, this time it was not because of rain, but because of the sunshine, as it was extended slightly to provide shade for the Royal Box. These were the warmest conditions that Murray has played in at Wimbledon, and it took him a while to adjust to the new speed of the court.

Gasquet’s backhand is both elegant and devilishly effective. Until the tie-break, Gasquet played with style and flair, dropping only five points on serve. But, Gasquet being Gasquet, he fell away when it mattered. Thereafter, Murray was the better player, so he made the last eight for the fourth consecutive summer.

The other day at the practice courts, Judy was watching her son train with López. “My mother thinks you’re beautiful,” Murray told the Spaniard, and Judy turned red and scuttled away. Tomorrow, though, both Murrays will have their game-faces on.

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