Andy Murray stresses need to perform against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga ahead of Wimbledon semi-final

 

Andy Murray will go into tomorrow's Wimbledon semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga confident after a fine fortnight but banishing any thoughts of entitlement.

The world number four will start a grand slam semi-final as the favourite for the first time since reaching his second Australian Open final at the start of last year.

On that occasion he beat David Ferrer, and it was the Spaniard who Murray defeated again yesterday in a very tough four-set clash to set up tomorrow's meeting with fifth seed Tsonga, who he has beaten five times in six matches.

The British number one has certainly had to do it the hard way, beating Nikolay Davydenko, Ivo Karlovic, Marcos Baghdatis and Marin Cilic just to reach the last eight.

Murray said: "When you start each tournament, you want to try and win. Obviously now that I'm in it, I'm not thinking, 'Great, I'm in the semi-finals'. You want to try and go further.

"But I know how hard it is. Everyone kept telling me I had such a hard draw and how tough it was going to be to get through. I managed to do that. I've beaten some very good players. It's been a good tournament so far.

"But I want it to continue. I'd be disappointed if I lost before the final in any tournament, but I don't just expect to get there. It's a very difficult thing to do. You need to make sure you perform properly."

Since that Melbourne victory over Ferrer, which was followed by a humbling final loss to Novak Djokovic, Murray has reached four more semi-finals and lost each one, three times to Rafael Nadal and once to Djokovic.

Of the top three of Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer, the Spaniard is the only player Murray has beaten at a grand slam, once at the US Open and once in Australia.

But Nadal has also been Murray's grand slam nemesis, beating the Scot six times, including the last two years here, both times in the semi-finals.

Murray was quick to reject claims he is happy not to be facing Nadal again, though, saying: "Just because I lost to him a few times, it doesn't mean I'd never want to play against him.

"I don't mind playing against Rafa. I've won against him in slams before. It's obviously a challenge, and he's played some very good tennis when we have played each other here.

"But Jo's a tough opponent. He's served very well so far this tournament. It's a very different match to playing against Rafa, but he's one of the best grass-court players in the world, that's for sure."

Tsonga can certainly not be underestimated. He has been a consistent improver since making his senior breakthrough in 2007 and then reaching the final of the Australian Open the following year, where he lost to Djokovic.

Last year he became the first player ever to beat Federer from two sets down at a grand slam in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon with a brilliant display of power tennis.

Both players are looking to make their first Wimbledon final, and Murray said: "I'll draw on the experience of my seven years on the tour.

"Having played Jo quite a lot of times, I know him well. We played a lot in the juniors, so I've known him for a long time.

"Rather than focusing on it being the semi-finals of Wimbledon, I need to focus on it being a match against him and what I do well against him and what's worked against him in the past."

This is Murray's seventh Wimbledon, and for most of that time he has been Britain's only hope of ending the now 76-year wait for a home winner in the men's singles.

He deliberately avoids all media coverage, and will continue that policy as the country holds its collective breath to see whether this time he can reach the final.

Murray said: "Subconsciously I'm probably extremely stressed out right now, but I try not to feel it. When the tournament's done, there's normally a pretty big release of that. I just don't want to be on the court for a few weeks."

The 25-year-old, meanwhile, revealed he has taken inspiration from American basketball star LeBron James, who finally ended his wait for an NBA title this year with Miami Heat.

Murray said: "There's a lot of people out there that didn't want him to win. There's a lot of people that said he would never win. There's a lot of people who said he never played his best in finals. In the fourth quarter of games he never steps up.

"Then you see how he played the whole of the finals, the whole of the play-offs. Sometimes it takes guys a bit longer than others."

PA

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