Andy Murray homes in on a Wimbledon final Britain has longed for

'Selfish' Scot stays focused on Tsonga threat but can end country's 74-year wait

Wimbledon

It has been 74 years since a British man reached the Wimbledon final and 76 years since a British man lifted the ultimate 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 this afternoon.

"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 really try to make sure that 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 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. Fred Perry was the last British man to win a Grand Slam singles title (the US Open in 1936) and the last British man to win Wimbledon (1936). Bunny Austin was the last to reach the Wimbledon final (1938).

Although Murray has not been thinking over the last fortnight about Britain's long wait for a champion – "If I did it might not be beneficial, especially at this stage of the tournament" – he has at other times of the year, especially 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 Murray 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."

Murray takes encouragement from his form here after victories over Nikolay Davydenko, Ivo Karlovic, Marcos Baghdatis, Marin Cilic and David Ferrer.

"This year has been one of my toughest draws, so I've had to play some of my best tennis to get here," he said. "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 very tough. There have been tough matches against different types of players as well. My game should be in a good place going into the semis."

Murray lost to Rafael Nadal at this stage in 2010 and last year. Today represents his best chance of reaching the final since his first semi, in 2009 against Andy Roddick, who went on to push Roger Federer in the final.

Tsonga has reached the semi-finals for a second year in succession – he lost to Novak Djokovic last year after beating 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 last April but in that period he has reached six finals, winning three.

The world No 6, nevertheless, usually brings the best out of Murray. He has lost five of his six matches against the Scot, including the last four. A fine grass-court player, Tsonga has a big serve and likes to come forward, while Murray has one of the best returns of serve and likes to have a target to attack at the net.

"Andy's one of the players I don't like to play because he's returning really well and he can play some really good passing shots," Tsonga said. "He's really quick. He's on the ball all the time, so he's tough for me."

While Tsonga believes the pressure is always great on Murray as Britain's only major contender – France has four men in the world's top 20 – he said that he always enjoyed playing against a home favourite.

"I remember at the US Open I played against Mardy Fish in a tight match," he said. "It wasn't easy, but I won."

Guy Forget, until recently Tsonga's Davis Cup captain, thinks there is little to choose between the two but says Murray has been more consistent.

"Jo's serve has always been there and can save him, particularly on grass," Forget said. "I don't think he's tired at all. Physically he's fine and mentally Jo likes these kind of matches. That's what makes him different from the other French players, I guess. That is why he is so high in the rankings, because he lives for these kind of matches. He is not afraid of going out on the court, not afraid of what will happen if he loses."

 

Get Adobe Flash player


Murray v Tsonga: Key past matches

2008: Australian Open 1st round: Tsonga won 7-5, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6

Murray had begun the year by winning the title in Doha but Tsonga caught him cold in Melbourne. The Frenchman went for his shots and was particularly punishing on Murray's second serve. It was the Scot's only defeat in the first round of a Grand Slam tournament since 2006 and his sole loss to Tsonga.

2010: Wimbledon Quarter-final: Murray won 6-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2

Tsonga, serving superbly and hitting his forehand with great power, became the first player to take a set off Murray at the tournament before being worn down by the all-round excellence of the Scot's game. As the match wore on Murray increasingly turned heroic defence into thrilling attack.

2011 Queen's Final: Murray won 3-6, 7-6, 6-4

Attacking the net and going for big shots, Tsonga dominated early on and was within five points of a win when Murray served at 5-5 and 30-40. Murray then took charge, his confidence highlighted by a through-the-legs half-volley that took him to 5-3 in the final set.

Overall It is 5-1 to Murray and 2-0 to Murray on grass.

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable