By Josh Powell
Andy Murray has battled his way to a hard-fought four-set victory over David Ferrer to set up a semi-final clash with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. With Rafael Nadal back in Majorca will Tsonga be the one to deny Murray a crack at the final as he tries to become the first Brit to win Wimbledon since 1936?
Murray will go into the game full of confidence after eventually exerting his authority over Ferrer, but it could have been very different. Only when he had his back against the wall and was facing the possibility of going two sets down did the Scot start producing the kind of tennis we know he’s capable of.
The world number four has a good record against Tsonga, winning five of the six matches they’ve faced together including the two played on grass. He’s 4/9 with Paddy Power to beat Tsonga again on Friday and make the final, but he will need to start quicker than he did against Ferrer.
Under the guidance of Ivan Lendl, Murray has looked more focused on the court than ever and there is a noticeable maturity about the 25-year-old. There are still moans and complaints and the niggling injuries but over the last ten days some of Murray’s play on the court has been magical. The Scot is able to cover so much of the court so quickly and pull off some inventive shots most would have deemed impossible.
When Murray started finding his rhythm against Ferrer there didn’t look like anything could stop him reaching his fourth consecutive Wimbledon semi-final. Murray was able to build his game around his monstrous first serve as his dismantled the gutsy Ferrer.
As the semi-final looms it will come down to gumption and heart as much as technique to reach the final at SW19. Murray has bags of raw talent but his bottle is the lingering doubt. Still without a Grand Slam victory to his name, Murray is 9/2 to win the tournament with reigning champion Novak Djokovic or 6-time-winner Roger Federer waiting in the final.
Murray has never won a Wimbledon semi-final but this is by far and away his greatest chance. If he can hold his nerve and assert his authority over Tsonga then finally Wimbledon might have its first British winner since Fred Perry, 76 years ago.