Murray forced to battle to keep final dream alive


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The Independent Online

For a fourth year in succession Andy Murray is two victories away from becoming Britain's first men's Wimbledon singles champion since Fred Perry in 1936. Murray's 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 victory over Spain's David Ferrer took him into a semi-final tomorrow against France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who has won just one of their six meetings.

It took time for Murray to come out of his shell, but when he did so he had too much firepower for the 30-year-old Spaniard, hitting 61 winners to Ferrer's 44.

Tomorrow will probably be Murray's best chance yet of reaching the final, following his defeats by Andy Roddick in 2009 and Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011. Murray has beaten Tsonga in their last four matches and both their meetings on grass.

Asked how he would cope with the expectation, Murray said: "If you shield yourself from it all and just get into your own little bubble, only listen to the people that are around you, then it's something you can deal with. Subconsciously I'm probably extremely stressed out right now, but I try not to feel it."

The first two sets against Ferrer followed similar patterns. Ferrer got his nose in front in both but was broken when serving for the set. The only difference was that Ferrer won the first tie-break 7-5 while Murray took the second 8-6.

Murray, who had fought back from 5-3, led 2-0 in the first tie-break but Ferrer won five of the next six points and took the set when the Scot put a forehand in the net.

There were moments in the second set when Murray looked disappointed. The Scot had to save three break points at 3-3 and was broken two games later. If Ferrer had held serve to take a two-sets lead it would have been a long road back. Ferrer led 5-2 in the tie-break and had one set point, which Murray saved with a forehand winner. Two points later the Scot took the set when a thrilling 20-stroke rally ended with Ferrer's backhand going into the net.

It proved to be the turning point. Murray held firm when Ferrer had two break points for a 3-1 lead in the third set and then hit two wonderful returns to make the break for 5-4. He then served out for the set.

Ferrer forced Murray to save two break points at 3-4 and at 5-5 rain forced the players off for nearly half an hour. When they returned the set went into another tie-break. Murray had the early advantage, Ferrer went 3-2 up and finally the Scot took command from 5-4. He won with an ace, his 18th of the contest.

Tomorrow will be his best chance yet of reaching the final. He has beaten Tsonga in both matches on grass