The match on Centre Court had been ticking over nicely - if not raucously - for the first hour or so.

But then the scoreboard showed something that was even more significant than Andy Murray’s lead over third-round opponent John Millman.

Novak Djokovic was out of Wimbledon.

Crackles from the 15,000 crowd turned to cheers. They knew what this meant.

The tournament was - and is - Murray’s to win.

The player himself was aware of what had happened as he sat in his chair at the changeover and waited for play to resume.

And while he is not one to get carried away, the dropped service game that followed appeared to confirm that his mind had drifted to other places during that 90-second interval.

How could it not?

This is clearly Murray’s greatest chance of winning the third grand slam of his career - which he deserves to - and the first since his triumph at SW19 three summers ago.


Since the start of 2015, the Brit has reached three major finals - two in Australia and one in France - and lost all of them to Djokovic, winning just two sets in the process.

Murray has also been the second best player in the game all season, accumulating over 2,200 more ranking points than every other player aside from the Serbian.

But those who assume that Murray will automatically go on and triumph should remember that sport does not work like that.

Firstly, this is a position he has never been in before.

Murray is now the top seed, meaning that the player who has made his career from striving to overcome those who are marginally better than him is now the man to beat.

That makes the three matches that he will have to play in order to reach the final - which will most probably be against adept grass-courters Nick Kyrgios, Richard Gasquet and Tomas Berdych - even harder.

Murray has got better at managing his emotions and the pressure he puts on himself in recent years, but the presence of re-appointed coach Ivan Lendl will also be crucial.

Lendl has guided Murray through the greatest moments of his career - namely those 11 glorious months that delivered the Olympics, US Open and Wimbledon - and can do so again this week.

The absence of Djokovic, however, is probably more beneficial - in the short-term, at least - to Roger Federer, who was scheduled to meet the ousted champion in the semi-finals.


It has been the Swiss master's worst season since 2000, but he would have taken that in exchange for what he has now: a shot at winning Wimbledon without having to face the player who beat him in the previous two finals.

And something that has been overlooked is that Federer has not lost to Murray since the 2013 Australian Open - a run that stretches to five matches, including last year’s semi-final at this tournament.

So should the 17-time slam winner meet Murray on Sunday, he will be poised to claim his eighth title at the All England Club and first major for four years.

Not that he is guaranteed to make it.

Federer might not have dropped a set so far, but it is still not clear where his game is at after cheerful-but-comfortable contests against Marcus Willis and Dan Evans.

The 34-year-old will inevitably be tested in the second week, though, and it will be fascinating to see how he copes considering he has not been involved in a slobber-knocker contest for six months.

The exit of Djokovic, then, is good for the sport.


It is reminiscent of the 2009 French Open, when Rafael Nadal was beaten by Robin Soderling in the fourth round and, suddenly, everyone else realised that they weren't just playing for second place.

Like Murray this year, the player impacted the most was Federer, who became very aware that his career grand slam was now achievable in the absence of the player who had beaten him for the previous three finals.

And while Federer eventually prevailed, it was not without one or two scares along the way.

After coming back from two sets down to defeat Tommy Haas in the last 16, it was courage and resolve that got him to the final over the course of five arduous sets against Juan Martin Del Potro.

Murray has those attributes, too, and will be required to call upon them several times if he is to lift the famous golden jug for the second time.

It is not going to be easy. It never is with Britain’s greatest tennis player since Fred Perry.

Not for the first time in Murray’s career, the nation expects.

Wimbledon betting