Murray homes in on a final Britain has dreamed of


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The Independent Online

It is 74 years since a British man, namely Bunny Austin, reached the Wimbledon final and 76 years since another, namely Fred Perry, lifted the prize, but Andy Murray will not let such thoughts cloud his mind as he prepares to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals here today.

"When I think about Wimbledon and how long it has been since a British winner it is obviously surprising, a bit shocking too," Murray said. "But I'm very selfish when I think about Wimbledon. I try to make sure I want to do it for myself."

In the Open era, only two other British men have reached Grand Slam singles finals – John Lloyd lost in Melbourne in 1977 and Greg Rusedski in New York in 1997 – but Murray is one win away from playing in his fourth, having lost at the US Open in 2008 and at the Australian Open in 2010 and last year.

Murray has pondered this long wait for a champion at times this year when visiting an empty Centre Court during a break from practice sessions. "When I sit out there on the court by myself, I'm thinking about the history and the matches that have been played there, so that I understand how important it is and so I know that when I come here I don't want to waste the chance by playing a stupid match or not acting right or not preparing properly," he said.

Today he will hope to feed off the support of his home crowd. "When you get out on the court, that is where you get all the benefits and that is where all the positives are," he said. "That's where the positives of home support come in. The build-up is hard and all the other things that go with it make it tough, but when you're on the court that's where you see all the positives. This year has been one of my toughest draws, so I've had to play some of my best tennis to get here.

"At the Australian Open this year I didn't have to play so well because the guys I played against were shattered, but this time it hasn't been like that. It's been tough. My game should be in a good place [now]."

Tsonga has reached the semis for the second year in a row – he lost to Novak Djokovic last year after beating Roger Federer – and has enjoyed the best run of his career in the last 12 months. The 27-year-old Frenchman has worked without a coach since April but has reached six finals since, winning three.