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Murray to play before Queen

Serena Williams promised Queen Elizabeth a curtsy she would never forget, but it is Britain's Andy Murray and not the women's champion who will get the chance to perform in front of the monarch at Wimbledon on Thursday.

sports Updated: Jun 24, 2010 11:15 IST

Serena Williams promised Queen Elizabeth a curtsy she would never forget, but it is Britain's Andy Murray and not the women's champion who will get the chance to perform in front of the monarch at Wimbledon on Thursday.

The Queen, who will grace the Royal Box for the first time since Virginia Wade won the title in 1977, will be entertained by Britain's last surviving representative at the All England Club, when the Scot plays Finland's Jarkko Nieminen.

Serena, who said she would be fine-tuning her curtsy for the arrival of the Queen, has been demoted to Court Two where she faces Anna Chakvetadze while Rafa Nadal's match with Robin Haase and Caroline Wozniacki against Kai-Chen Chang complete the action on Centre.

Murray, who is bidding to become the first British man to win the Wimbledon title since Fred Perry in 1936, was determined not be distracted by the royal observer.

"I hope it doesn't affect me in the match," he said after strolling to a first-round victory against Jan Hajek.

"I've been doing it for the last five or six years, getting used to playing in big stadiums with people watching and various distractions. You just need to stay focused."
Nieminen, 28, reached the quarter-final at the All England Club in 2006, and Murray is prepared for a tougher challenge than offered by Hajek in the last round.

"He has a lot of experience," Murray added. "He had a really good chance to beat Roddick at the French Open a few weeks ago.

"He's a tough player. He's obviously a lefty, which can make it tricky. He's a very solid player. He doesn't hand matches to you.

"You have to go out and beat him. He's not going to make many mistakes." Nadal, who breezed into the second round with a straight sets victory over Japan's Kei Nishikori, should find his passage to the third round equally trouble-free.

Haase has never been past the second round at any of the four Grand Slams and a royal presence is unlikely to distract the Spaniard from the task at hand.

"Well, believe me, it is a pleasure to have the Queen here in Wimbledon," Nadal said after beating Nishikori.

"That's very good for the sport and for me it is not an extra pressure. For me, it is just an honour to watch the Queen in the Royal Box. I would love to have the chance to say hello to her, but that's it."