The Croatian is the world number 33, and at 32 years old remains a player capable of threatening the very best, in large part because of his world-class serve.
John McEnroeFormer Wimbledon champion & BBC Sport commentator
“Murray has now put himself in a very good position, once again. He had to step it up against a more experienced player and he did just that and showed signs that he could go all the way - he was brilliant at times”
That proved to be the key shot in the early stages, faltering under sustained pressure from the Murray return in game six but getting him out of trouble from 0-40 and seeing off four break points.
A rasping Ljubicic forehand winner then earned a break point in the following game and Murray dumped a mid-court forehand into the net to fall 4-3 behind.
This was not what the Centre Court crowd had expected to see, and the sense of shock appeared to transfer to Ljubicic as he barely had time to enjoy his advantage before a double-fault handed the break straight back in game eight.
Ljubicic could not afford to give the world number four any gifts but at 5-4 down he misjudged a Murray defensive lob that landed inside the baseline, allowing the Scot to take the point and moments later convert his second set point with a brilliant forehand pulled down the line.
But the lapses in concentration that still blight Murray's game were to reappear early in the second set, successive double-faults rounding off a dreadful service game and handing Ljubicic a lead he would not relinquish as he served out to level at one set all.
Murray performs trick-shot during closing stages of the match
Another set, another Murray, and the Briton was switched on from the start of the third, a drop shot and a sweet backhand winner carrying him to a break at the start, and a tracer-like backhand down the line helping move 4-0 clear in no time.
Murray served out the set and looked in a similar mood to the latter stages of
his first-round win over Daniel Gimeno-Traver
, when he reeled off the last 15 games, but he needed a backhand of pinpoint accuracy to save a break point at 1-0 down in the fourth.
It was the world number four who was in the ascendancy though, and passes off the backhand and forehand sides gave him the break at 3-2 before, with confidence flowing in game seven, he repeated the between-the-legs shot he had used at Queen's Club.
“You'll have tough sets and you have to come through tough matches in Grand Slams”
That confidence was nowhere to be seen when Murray tried to serve out the match, however, and he found the net on break point to give Ljubicic a lifeline, only for the Croatian to crack first in the tie-break that followed.
Two errors allowed Murray to move 6-3 clear and the Briton thumped away a forehand on his second match point to seal victory after two hours and 56 minutes.
"It was a tough one," said Murray. "Both of us were struggling a bit behind our second serves. When I served for the match he swung and made it. You'll have tough sets and you have to come through tough matches in Grand Slams.
"It's very intense here - I just need to serve better, but I returned well and I'm ready. I thought tonight's match was a very, very high standard."
Murray worried about looking like a 'plonker' when playing his trick shot
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