Andy Murray favourite at Wimbledon after Novak Djokovic falls

WIMBLEDON, London -- Andy Murray was toiling away, oblivious as the murmurs went around Centre Court. But his mother, Judy, was beaming in his players' box.

Confirmation that Novak Djokovic was out of Wimbledon started to spread through the crowd. Minutes later the world No. 2 was made odds-on favourite to win his second title here.

The seismic shift in the mood started to dawn on Murray when Centre Court erupted as the result of Djokovic's defeat to Sam Querrey flashed on the scoreboard.

"If you see a result or hear the fans, then you think about it," he later admitted in a press conference. "That's natural. You don't just not see what's going on. But it wasn't going through my mind for more than 10 or 15 seconds while sitting at the change of ends. Then you get on with it. It's irrelevant to me during today's match; I needed to win today."

Now it was about holding his nerve as he served for a two-set lead against John Millman. But having already failed to take two set points up 5-3 on the Australian's serve, he was instead broken back, with Millman levelling the second set at 5-5.

Murray was understandably tight, but he refused to push the panic button. After a 14-minute game, he broke Millman straight back, turning a "potential lemon into lemonade," as John McEnroe observed on ESPN.

The Scot pumped his fist in the air, re-energising not just himself but the crowd, encouraging them to get more involved. Returning to his chair at the change of ends, he screamed, "Right now!" and jabbed his finger toward the turf, ready to serve again for the set.

He hasn't looked so fired up since, well, winning Wimbledon in 2013.

There was to be no looking back now. Murray held and, the wind in his sails, broke again at the start of the third set. He went on to close out a 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 win that was sealed with an ace after 2 hours, 10 minutes on court.

"The bookies don't always get it right," the new favourite said with a smile. "They've made a few mistakes over the last few weeks across a number of different things."

Indeed, Britain was also odds-on to stay in Europe -- but Murray was in no mood for an exit here.

"If I was to reach the final, then it [Djokovic's defeat] may have some bearing," he added. "It doesn't right now. My draw is still exactly the same. The match in the next round is especially tough.

"The run that Novak has had has been incredible, so everyone expects him to win every match. But history suggests that's not going to happen. There's going to be a match where maybe you don't play your best and your opponent plays great tennis.

"Rather than it being a surprise, it should really be almost celebrated now, what he's actually done. I mean, it's incredible. He broke a number of records, winning all four slams, 30 consecutive Grand Slam matches. It's amazing.

"I would imagine today he'd be disappointed. But looking back, it's been probably the best 12 months in tennis for years."

Unbeaten in eight matches since reuniting with Ivan Lendl, Murray is smoothly through to the second week of Wimbledon without dropping a set. He is the first player in the bottom half of the draw to reach the last 16, with several of his rivals now playing catch-up due to the interruptions caused by the rain this week.

A meeting with either Nick Kyrgios or Feliciano Lopez awaits him in the fourth round on Monday. Richard Gasquet, John Isner and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are in the mix to face the British No.1 in the quarterfinals, with Juan Martin del Potro -- conqueror of Stan Wawrinka in the second round -- a potential threat in the semifinals, should his wrist hold out.

Murray will be confident. He was already being backed to reach what would be a third final in SW19, but now -- significantly -- the man who has beaten him in five of their seven Grand Slam final meetings, including at the first two majors of 2016, won't be on the other side of the net, should Murray get there.

A certain Mr. Roger Federer might be, though. Denied a record eighth Wimbledon title by Djokovic the past two summers, Federer's claim on Friday night that Djokovic was "clearly beatable" proved true, and the Swiss will fancy his chances if he meets Murray here in the final, having beaten him there in 2012.

The top half of the draw is now wide open, with Queen's finalist Milos Raonic -- being coached here by McEnroe -- and world No.6 Kei Nishikori lurking to challenge the 17-time major champion.

A forlorn Djokovic also revealed in his press conference afterward that he is not going to play Davis Cup. That will be music to the ears of Murray, Leon Smith and the rest of the Great Britain team ahead of their quarterfinal later this month.