Andy Murray stormed into the final of the Olympics men's tennis singles last night, setting up a dream rematch against Roger Federer, to whom he lost at the climax of Wimbledon only weeks ago.
In a tense two-hour semi-final against the Serbian world No 1 Novak Djokovic on Centre Court, Murray was the surprise victor, guaranteeing himself a silver medal and earning the chance to avenge his defeat by Federer.
His tears of joy and relief at beating Djokovic 7-5, 7-5 in front of a wildly enthusiastic and partisan home crowd showed how important the competition has become.
In a message tweeted by Team GB last night, he said: "It's amazing. I just wanted to try and win a medal, for the team, for the country and lastly for myself. I'm so happy." He will be back in action today, taking part in a mixed-doubles quarter-final with Laura Robson.
Tim Henman said after the semi-final: "People questioned how Andy Murray would respond after the Wimbledon final. He's responded in the best possible way."
Federer awaits him in the final after surviving a gruelling four-hour and 26 minute match against Juan Martí* del Potro, which he won in three sets by the extraordinary score of 3-6, 7-6, 19-17.
Afterwards the Swiss player, whose victory against Murray last month was his seventh Wimbledon men's singles title, said: "It was a big match obviously. Very tough from start to finish. I don't think I have ever played as long a set in a best-of-three set match, so it was very physical at the end and so mental. I feel bad and horrible for Juan Martín but he can be very proud."
Del Potro was deeply disappointed at losing, but praised his opponent: "It is tough to speak now, I feel sad, but Roger made a fantastic match. He is a good winner. When you lose, you can't see the good things. I just hope I will be better before my mixed doubles match."
Till yesterday the longest three-set men's singles match was won by Rafael Nadal against Djokovic in the 2009 Madrid Masters. It lasted four hours and three minutes long.
Before last night's victory, Murray said that the Olympic title is important to him and other professional tennis players despite their being able to make far more money by playing on the circuit.
"It means a lot to me and to all the athletes involved," he said. "A lot of people think that because we have grand slams this doesn't mean as much, but that couldn't be further from the truth."Reuse content