Photo: Paul ZimmerAndy Murray (GBR)
DAY 9: Andy Murray has taken one step closer to becoming the first British player in 76 years to win the Wimbledon men’s singles title following his fantastic four-set victory over the tenacious David Ferrer on Wednesday.
Their quarterfinal match always promised to be a tightly contested affair and so it proved, with Murray edging through 67(5) 76(6) 64 76(4) after a gruelling 3 hours 52 minutes on Centre Court. The No. 4 and No. 5 ranked players in the world produced tennis of the highest order and either one of them would have been a worthy winner.
Murray was slow to get going at the start and Ferrer, playing in his first Wimbledon quarterfinal, took full advantage, stealing an early break and going on to serve for the first set at 5-3. The British No. 1 responded, however, breaking back to take the set into a tiebreak. The momentum swung back and forth, but it was Ferrer who eventually held his nerve to draw first blood when a Murray forehand found the net at 6-5.
The second set followed an identical pattern as Ferrer forged ahead and served for a two sets lead, only for Murray to break back and force a tiebreak. The Spaniard led 6-5 once again, but this time Murray had the answer and a forehand winner kept him in the hunt. They changed ends and two points later the Scot was celebrating drawing level at one set apiece.
Murray had one break point in the third set, which he converted, and that was all he needed to take it 6-4. The fourth set, after a short rain break at 5-5, headed into yet another tiebreak and this time Murray took firm control. He found himself serving at 6-4 and a huge ace down the middle finally sealed his place in the semifinals for the fourth straight year. Ferrer, who at the age of 30 is playing some of the best tennis of his career, will leave with his head held high.
Murray’s opponent in the last four is the talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The two players have met six times at tour-level events and Murray leads the series 5-1. That includes two victories on grass in last year’s final at Queen’s Club and the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 2010. Fred Perry was the last British man to win the Wimbledon title back in 1936, but Murray isn’t getting carried away about repeating that feat just yet.
“Jo's a tough opponent,” said Murray, who would have expected his semifinal opponent to be Rafael Nadal until the world No. 2 suffered a shock exit in the second round. “He served, I think, very well so far this tournament. It's a very different match to playing against Rafa, but he's one of the best grass court players in the world, that's for sure.”
Tsonga came through a four set battle of his own in the quarterfinals, defeating German Philipp Kohlschreiber 76(5) 46 76(3) 62 on No. 1 Court. The contest was delicately poised heading into the third set tiebreak, but once the Frenchman had clinched it 7-3 there was only going to be one winner. Tsonga, the world No. 6, will be making his second successive appearance in the last four at Wimbledon.
There were no shocks in the top half of the draw as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both eased through to set up a semifinal meeting against each other. Djokovic hammered Florian Mayer 64 61 64 in 1 hour 45 minutes, and Federer had an even easier time against Mikhail Youzhny 61 62 62 in 1 hour 32 minutes.
Djokovic, the reigning champion, is bidding for his second straight victory at The All England Club, while Federer is attempting to equal Pete Sampras’s record of seven Wimbledon titles. The Serb has had the upper hand in their recent meetings having won six of their last seven matches over the last two seasons, but the Swiss still holds an overall 14-12 lead. Surprisingly, this will be the first time they have faced each other on grass.
The men’s semifinals are scheduled for Friday, but first the women’s semifinals will take place on Thursday. Angelique Kerber is first up on Centre Court against Agnieszka Radwanska, followed by Serena Williams versus Victoria Azarenka.
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