(Reuters) - World number one and defending champion Andy Murray is glad to see three other British players in the third round at Wimbledon but remains focussed on progressing to the final stages of the competition next week, the 30-year-old has said.
Four British players made it past the second round for the first time since 1997 as Murray beat Dustin Brown in straight sets on Wednesday to advance alongside compatriots Heather Watson, Aljaz Bedene and Johanna Konta.
Murray is happy to have some company for a change but believes their progression has made little difference to his own performance as he prepares to face Italy’s Fabio Fognini in a third round encounter on Friday.
“It’s a good thing when there are more Brits around,” Murray is quoted as saying by The Times.
”That’s a really positive thing, but it doesn’t change how I go into the matches. I‘m used to having played deep into the second weeks at slams and there not being any Brits there.
“Whether I’ll feel differently in the middle of the second week and there are a few Brits left, and it’s maybe a little bit calmer, that’s possible. I’ve never been in that position before.”
This is the first time Bedene and Konta have reached the third round but Watson will be hoping for better luck after losing to Agnieszka Radwanska in 2012 and Serena Williams in 2015 on her previous attempts to reach the fourth round.
In-form Watson faces former world number one Victoria Azarenka and the Belarusian expects a tough test from her 25-year-old opponent, who reached the semi-finals at the Aegon International last week.
“I think she’s a great player,” Azarenka, who is playing in just her second event since giving birth to her first child in December, said.
“She definitely is going to be a crowd favourite. She played really well last week in Eastbourne. It looks like she feels really comfortable coming into this match.”
All four Brits will play on Friday with sixth-seeded Konta facing Greece’s Maria Sakkari and Bedene set to play 16th-seed Gilles Muller.
Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru