Andy Murray and Laura Robson emerge as Britain's power couple

On a day of familiarly cloying British summer drizzle victories for Laura Robson and Andy Murray on a covered Centre Court provided a hometown centrepiece to an afternoon at Wimbledon that was distinctly and even rather jarringly Brit-flavoured.

As the Lawn Tennis Association might have been keen to point out, never mind the depth, feel the quality. British tennis may be laughably weak beneath its veneer of elite achievement but this was still a moment to enjoy, for the first time as a distinct sporting item, the achievements of British Tennis's emergent twin-headed power couple.

By recent standards this was a deluge, a Brit-slide, a saturation. It is hard to think what the correct collective noun is for a male-female duo of British players winning on Centre Court on the same afternoon to make it to Wimbledon's middle Saturday. A blue moon of British tennis players, perhaps, or an anomaly – possibly even a misdirection given the yawning gap in quality that lurks beneath Murray's statistically freakish world No2 status.

We have been here before in recent years: Sam Smith and Tim Henman both reached round four in 1998 and Henman and Elena Baltacha made it to round three a decade ago. But this feels a little different. Smith and Baltacha were plucky Brits, where Robson, like Murray, is a Brit with an air of genuine high-ceilinged quality about her and of genuine expectation, too.

And yet for all this it was a rather sedate, pleasantly restrained Centre Court full house that welcomed Murray against the former World No5 Tommy Robredo, a Spaniard of limited attacking ambition, but with a grinding defensive game that threatened pre-match to draw the more attritional aspects out of Murray's own game.

It was interesting to note the differing receptions afforded the British No1s, two players at very different stages not just in their careers but in the complex and at times bafflingly precious relationship with that primly insistent Centre Court crowd.

For Murray there was a genuine thunderclap of a cheer as he emerged on court, a sense of the unbound fan-dom that is the due of the true sporting-celebrity heavyweight. Murray is a hugely familiar figure now at Wimbledon, as he should be having won more grand slam singles matches than any other British player in history.

He lost the opening game to Robredo in quick time but there was barely a flicker around Centre Court's humid outer reaches.

In the next game his first backhand winner, delivered with theatrical delay, like a man very carefully and deliberately preparing to destroy a small garden ornament with a polo mallet, drew not so much cheers as grunts and sighs, belches of approval.

Murray looks entirely composed on Wimbledon's grass these days, noticeably still between points mooching back to his service line like a man off to see what is in the fridge and unresponsive to the goadings and burblings of the crowd.

The first real volley of Come On Andys arrived at 30-30 in Robredo's second service game. Murray remained pachydermically unmoved and took the game and his first service break after forcing Robredo to net with a pummelling forehand.

For Robson earlier in the day it had been a slightly different story. There has already been some talk of the emergent British No1 being embraced by Centre Court's more hysterical ultras, but Wimbledon's affections can be capricious and indeed rather baffling on these occasions.

Robson walked out to applause that was politely enthusiastic. If she seemed nervous at times this was entirely understandable, not just because victory here meant she progressed to the third round for the first time but because this is Wimbledon and she is British and there remains something of a getting-to-know-you period for the stately occasionals of Centre Court.

As Robson turned at the end of an increasingly impressive 6-4, 6-1 defeat of Mariana Duque-Marino to wave her racket in response to a standing ovation she smiled rather shyly at what was her grandest Wimbledon moment to date. Perhaps there are even the first stirrings – God help us – of some kind of nascent Lozzamania, although in truth Wimbledon has generally simmered down in the last two years when it comes to Brit-hysteria.

It is a different experience watching Murray in these early rounds as he progresses without needing to haul himself up from the canvas but with the air of entitlement of a genuinely great player. There is no need for the crowd to quiver with that familiar Brit-centred emotional incontinence when he plays as well as he did here – that is when he plays like Andy Murray.

This year in particular he has the air of a global champion athlete, out there beyond and above the hometown bondage of Wimbledon's Surrey set.

By the end of her match Robson, too, was also playing like the genuinely blue-chip talent her shot-making proclaims her to be. She left the court to loud and affectionate cheers and will play Marina Erakovic of New Zealand in the next round on Saturday.

Powered by article was written by Barney Ronay at Wimbledon, for The Guardian on Friday 28th June 2013 21.40 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


image: © Ian Dick