Tennis: Triumphant Andy Murray through to London 2012 semi-finals at Wimbledon
Andy Murray has reached base camp, but now he has to climb the mountain. In earning a place in the semi-finals of the Olympic tournament here with victory over Nicolas Almagro yesterday, the 25-year-old Scot has reached his initial goal, which was to ensure that he will be back on Sunday when the medals are decided. The men blocking his route to gold, however, are Novak Djokovic and, in all probability, Roger Federer, the last two Wimbledon champions.
If Murray beats Djokovic today, he will play for the gold medal in two days’ time against the winner of this afternoon’s second semi-final between Federer – the man who beat him in the Wimbledon final less than four weeks ago - and Juan Martin del Potro. If he loses, Murray will face the other beaten semi-finalist on Sunday in a match to decide who will win the bronze.
For the moment Murray’s only focus will be on Djokovic, a contemporary he has known since they first met in a junior tournament in France at the age of 12. “It’s obviously going to be a tough match,” Murray said. “I need to be ready for it.”
While the Serb has outstripped the Scot in terms of their recent achievements, winning four of the last seven Grand Slam tournaments, Murray has won five of their last nine meetings. Djokovic has won their only Grand Slam encounters, in last year’s Australian Open final and this year’s semi-finals, but today will be their first match on grass.
“We’ve both been playing really well and making good results in Wimbledon in the last five years,” Djokovic said when asked whom the conditions might favour. “I don't think it goes to anybody's advantage. He’s definitely been playing well and he's going to have big support from the crowd. I think he went as close as ever to winning his first Grand Slam trophy just a couple of weeks ago, so he's motivated as much as I am to win.”
There is no greater patriot than Djokovic, who traces back the turnaround in his fortunes over the last 18 months to Serbia’s Davis Cup triumph in 2010. Winning the Olympic bronze in Beijing in 2008 reduced him to tears and he has played with great passion here this week.
Murray has also revelled in the Olympic experience. “There are a lot of people that think that maybe tennis isn't necessarily an Olympic sport, but I know how much I care about it and how much I want to do well here and want to try to win a medal, be part of the team and try and help Britain's medal count if I can,” he said.
“I've really enjoyed it so far. I hope I can go one better on Friday and get a medal, but I really enjoy being part of a team and playing for my country. It's a different sort of emotion when you're on the court.”
Murray believes the Olympics has given the country a “sense of togetherness”. He explained: “The whole of the country's got right into the Olympics, which is great. For the athletes, it makes a big difference to play in front of a home crowd. It does add a little bit of extra pressure, but normally it helps raise your game. I've always enjoyed it.”
Both men reached the semi-finals with something to spare. Murray beat Spain’s Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-1 in just 59 minutes. The world No 4 served beautifully, hitting 15 aces, but Almagro offered only limited resistance in the second set after suffering a shoulder problem.
Djokovic has sometimes struggled on the surface here this week – “There's a lot of holes, a lack of grass, especially around the baseline,” he said yesterday – but was still too good for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, winning 6-1, 7-5.
Serena Williams, the Wimbledon champion, continued her seemingly unstoppable run towards the gold medal, dropping only three games against Caroline Wozniacki to set up a semi-final against Victoria Azarenka. Williams has won her last six meetings with the world No 1, including their Wimbledon semi-final here last month.
The world No 15 now meets Maria Sharapova, who beat Kim Clijsters 6-2, 7-5.
WWE Raw results: Brock Lesnar suspended for post-Wrestlemania 31 rampage after losing title to Seth Rollins
Raheem Sterling interview: No amount of money can convince Sterling to stay at Liverpool
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England shirt is now
The 10 potential biggest transfers of the summer: Raheem Sterling, Theo Walcott and Radamel Falcao in the mix
Liverpool injury news: Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren expected to be ready for Arsenal clash
- 2 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 3 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
- 4 6-year-old writes ice cold Valentine's card to his stepmother
- 5 Syrian child photographed 'surrendering to camera because she thought it was a gun'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men