Andy Murray wins through to Wimbledon semi-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

 

Andy Murray reached the
Wimbledon semi-finals for the fourth year in a row with a hugely
impressive victory over in-form Spaniard David Ferrer.

The fourth seed looked in big trouble at a set and a break down but he dug deep, saved a set point in an epic second-set tie-break and eventually came through 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 7-6 (7/4).

On Friday he will play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he bids to become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to reach the Wimbledon singles final.

Murray faced an uphill task if he was to reach a fourth consecutive Wimbledon semi-final after dropping the first set on a tie-break to David Ferrer.

The 30-year-old Spaniard is having the season of his life.

He has already won four titles, a career high, and last month he reached the semi-finals at the French Open for the first time by beating Murray.

That was no surprise, clay is Ferrer's favourite surface, but he has taken that form onto grass, winning the warm-up event in 's-Hertogenbosch and now making the last eight here for the first time.

Murray played very well to beat Marin Cilic yesterday, but at the same time Ferrer was defeating Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets.

And Ferrer began brilliantly today, winning the first five points and then forcing Murray to save two break points.

The Scot had two chances to break in the next game but Ferrer held firm, and it was the underdog who drew first blood to move 3-1 ahead when Murray netted a forehand.

With two of the best returners facing one another, it was not surprising the games were close, and Ferrer kept his nose in front until he served for the set at 5-3.

Murray stepped up a gear on his return and saved one set point before breaking back courtesy of a great backhand pass.

Into the tie-break they went, and from 2-0 behind, Ferrer won the next four points to take control.

Murray retrieved the mini-break but then netted a forehand to go set point down at 6-5, and this time the Spaniard took his opportunity when the home hope again found the net.

Ferrer is renowned for his relentless hitting and great movement but he was showing how much else he has in his game, including decent touch at the net.

Murray had a chance to break in the second game of the second set but could not take it.

It was high-class tennis but the fourth seed certainly had another level to go up, particularly on his forehand.

That was his undoing again in the seventh game as he netted a shot he should have made to hand Ferrer two break points.

He saved both, and then a third that followed in one of the longest and most tense rallies of the match.

It felt like a big moment but instead Ferrer redoubled his efforts in the next Murray service game and this time he did break through when the Scot hit a drop shot wide.

That left the 30-year-old serving for the set but for the first time he wobbled, a series of errors allowing Murray to level at 5-5.

A second tie-break soon followed and again it was Ferrer who took control, winning the first three points and then opening up a 5-2 lead.

Murray fought back to draw level, though, and then saved the first set point, this time his forehand holding firm.

A big serve gave the fourth seed a set point and he took it 8-6 when Ferrer finally buckled after another brutal rally.

Murray's shot selection had been poor at times on big points but he showed admirable nerve and skill to see out the tie-break.

However, there was still plenty of work to do, and Ferrer had the first chance of the third set when he forced two break points in the fourth game, but Murray managed to stave off the threat.

Murray was struggling to make any headway on his opponent's serve, and both players had fallen below the very high standard of the first two sets.

Another tie-break looked on the cards, but a super forehand return from Murray earned him his first break point of the set in the ninth game and a chance to serve for it at 5-4.

He took it, a backhand proving too good even for Ferrer's remarkable defences, and did not allow his opponent a sniff of a break back as he clinched the set 6-4 with an ace.

It was a huge set for Murray - but with Ferrer on the other side of the net there was plenty of hard work still to come, and the Scot was starting to look a little weary.

Once again it was Ferrer who had the first sight of a break in the fourth set when he created two chances in the eighth game, but again Murray saved them, as he had on 10 of the 12 occasions he had faced break point.

The Scot's serve had not been quite as effective as it was against Cilic but it was still a reliable ally when he needed it, and Ferrer could do nothing with his chances.

As often happens, saving break points in one game led to chances in the next, and Murray was within spitting distance of the semi-finals at 15-40.

However, it was Ferrer's turn to dig deep, and the Spaniard celebrated when he finally came through the game.

There was just time for Murray to hold serve for 5-5 before the rain came and the match was suspended for the first time.

The players were not off for long, though, and when they returned both held serve easily to set up a third tie-break.

Murray was close again when he moved a mini-break ahead at 5-3, and he brought up his first match point with a forehand powered down the line.

An ace clinched one of his finest grand slam wins and set up a semi-final on Friday against fifth seed Tsonga, who he has beaten in five of their six previous meetings.

PA

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