Joy for home favourites on Wimbledon Day 5

It always adds a little spice to an international tournament if the home favourites enjoy a splash of success.

Whatever the sport, if fans have a native team or individual to cheer on, it retains the interest of the locals and leads to a palpable buzz in the stands.

Andy Murray has been somewhat of a lone hero for British tennis fans at Wimbledon over recent years, so the progress of both the Scot and sixth women’s seed Johanna Konta into the fourth round can only benefit the competition.

In fact, Konta was far more impressive than Murray in her progress on Friday, particularly considering this is the first time that she has reached the second week of Wimbledon.

Konta was confident and dominant in a straight sets victory over Maria Sakkari. That wasn’t necessarily a surprise, with Sakkari ranked 101 in the world. But the Brit looks good. It’s no surprise that many are tipping her as an outside bet for the title.

Australian-born Konta will remain favourite to progress from her last 16 tussle against French 21st seed Caroline Garcia. It’s a potential quarter final against Simona Halep or Victoria Azarenka, which will be the real barometer of her championship chances.

In stark contrast to Konta, Murray at times was tetchy and prone to errors in his four sets win over Fabio Fognini. The Italian will certainly feel that he blew a major opportunity after failing to profit from four set points in the fourth to take the match into a decider.

But perhaps Murray needed an encounter like this.

The world number one’s struggles with a hip injury have evidently hampered his preparations for Wimbledon.

Coming through a gruelling test like this will perhaps restore a little confidence that he can overcome the problem.

All that ultimately matters too is that Murray progressed to the fourth round, where he will face France’s Benoit Paire.

However, his progress certainly wasn’t as smooth as Rafa Nadal’s. The Spaniard booked his place in the last
16 with a comfortable win over potential dangerman Karen Khachanov.

The big casualty in the men’s draw was Kei Nishikori after the ninth seed lost in four sets to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

The Japanese star has suffered with injuries this season, but an early elimination at Wimbledon will only raise question marks over his progress.

Since reaching the 2014 US Open final, Nishikori has failed to progress beyond the quarter-final stage at any of the Grand Slams. If the 27-year-old wants to step up to another level and challenge tennis’ heavyweights, then he is running out of time.

Nishikori wasn’t the only Japanese casualty after teenager Naomi Osaka succumbed to Venus Williams in straight sets.

It’s the 15th time that Williams has graced the last 16 of Wimbledon and she will face another teenager, Ana Konjuh, for a place in the quarter-finals.

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