LONDON — When a 19-stroke exchange ended with Andy Murray’s Wimbledon opponent slapping a forehand into the net, thousands of Centre Court spectators rose in unison.
They applauded Murray’s first service break. They screamed for joy. They waved their Union Jacks and Scottish flags. It was only a third-round match, merely 12 minutes and three games old, yet to some that tiny early edge seemed massively meaningful.
So imagine the reaction, louder and livelier, when the second-seeded Murray finished off his 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 32d-seeded Tommy Robredo less than two hours later Friday to advance to Week 2. And then, for a moment, try to fathom what would happen if Murray ever were to win the final point of The Championships, as the Grand Slam tournament is known around here, and become the first British man in 77 years to hoist the trophy.
‘‘You need to be professional enough to not let that stuff bother you and just concentrate on each match,’’ said Murray, who has won 20 of his past 21 contests on grass, including runs to last year’s final at the All England Club and a London Olympics gold medal.
The locals’ hopes that Murray will follow up his 2012 US Open victory with another major title, this time at Wimbledon, only increased in the aftermath of surprisingly early losses this week by seven-time champion Roger Federer, two-time winner Rafael Nadal, and two-time semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
All were seeded in the top six, and all were on Murray’s half of the draw. Their departures mean the most daunting obstacle in Murray’s path — until a potential final against No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, anyway — might very well be surging expectations.
Nadal’s stunning first-round exit, for example, was viewed mainly through the prism of how that result helped Murray, who could have faced the 12-time major champion in the semifinals. ‘‘Adios Rafa. Hello Andy. Wimbledon dreams again,’’ read a headline in The Times of London. The Daily Mail’s take: ‘‘Great start for Andy — Rafa’s out.’’
All in all, then, Friday was a perfectly British day, and not simply because Murray won his third straight-set match in a row. The lone other remaining singles player from the host country, 19-year-old Laura Robson, made her way into the third round at Wimbledon for the first time, defeating 117th-ranked qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino, 6-4, 6-1.
Two days after serving-and-volleying his way past defending champion Federer, Sergiy Stakhovsky played like a guy ranked 116th, losing, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3, to 37th-ranked Jurgen Melzer.
‘‘I think,’’ Stakhovsky said, ‘‘I just played stupid.’’
Eugenie Bouchard, the 66th-ranked player, went from beating 12th-seeded Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open titlist, on Wednesday to losing to No. 19 Carla Suarez Navarro, 7-5, 6-2, on Friday. And 131st-ranked qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito, who eliminated four-time major champion Maria Sharapova in the second round, bowed out, 7-5, 6-2, against 104th-ranked Karin Knapp in the third.
Among Friday’s noteworthy results: Grega Zemlja became the first Slovenian man to reach the third round by edging No. 29 Grigor Dimitrov, 11-9, in the fifth set of a match suspended by rain Thursday and interrupted again Friday; No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz’s serves reached 140 m.p.h. and he delivered 30 aces in a straight-set victory over No. 15 Nicolas Almagro; and No. 4 David Ferrer and 35-year-old Tommy Haas also won.
Wild-card entry Alison Riske gave the US a fourth woman in the round of 32 — no American men made it that far for the first time in 101 years — and plays Saturday against Kaia Kanepi, who beat No. 7 Angelique Kerber, 3-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.