Nadal next as Murray reaches last four
Andy Murray survived his first scare of this year's Wimbledon as he found a way past Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Centre Court this evening to set up a blockbuster semi-final against Rafael Nadal.
The fourth seed looked in danger throughout the first two sets as he fought to withstand a barrage of power.
But coming through a tense tie-break to level the match, with some help from a huge Tsonga misjudgement, ultimately proved the turning point.
Murray then broke serve after an epic game early in the third set before running away with the match as Tsonga battled body and mind, the Scot eventually winning 6-7 (5/7) 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 6-2.
Murray said: "It was a really tough first couple of sets. He was going for huge shots on both sides, but I played very well in the last couple of sets."
The Frenchman was clearly on a level above any of Murray's previous opponents, so it was not surprising the British number one found himself in his first tie-break of the tournament.
After the first four points in the tie-break went against serve, it was Tsonga who made the decisive move to lead 6-3. And, although Murray held firm on his service points, the Frenchman clinched the set with a superb drop volley.
That took Murray's tie-break record for the year to three wins and seven losses, but he had the chance to gain an immediate break at the start of the second set when Tsonga slipped to 15-40.
He could not take either of those chances but a third arrived when Murray turned defence into attack in brilliant fashion to force the error from Tsonga at the net, and this time he did capitalise thanks to another mistake on the volley.
But all that hard work was squandered with a sloppy game at 3-1, allowing Tsonga to break back. Murray was not playing badly but errors at key times were costing him dearly, and too often his opponent was getting the first strike in.
He pressed hard for a second break but it would not come so into another tie-break they went.
An early mini-break for Murray was quickly retrieved, and he was in trouble when a crunching Tsonga backhand helped him move 5-4 ahead with two serves to come.
The Scot levelled straight away though, with the Frenchman again found wanting at the net, and a woeful mistake by Tsonga, choosing to leave a return which bounced inside the court, left Murray serving for the set.
And he took the chance, letting out a huge roar after Tsonga went for too much on the return.
The Scot's defensive abilities are second only to those of Nadal and an amazing scrambled forehand took him to 0-30 in Tsonga's second service game of the third set, which quickly developed into a crucial moment in the match.
Five break points came and went, with Tsonga's power - and a little help from the net in one case - keeping his opponent at bay. But on the sixth Murray kept his passing shot low enough to force the Frenchman to volley wide.
Having finally got the break, the 23-year-old seemed set to give it straight back when he slipped to 15-40 but he used his favourite drop shot to pull it back to deuce and held on.
The tide was slowly turning in the home favourite's favour, and the set was almost in the bag when some resigned shots from Tsonga helped Murray break again.
That took him to 4-1, but the Frenchman recovered from his mental lapse to ensure it would not be a stroll for the British number one, forcing him to save a break point before serving out the set.
Tsonga, though, seemed to have stopped believing in an upset that looked very likely for the first two sets and the writing was firmly on the wall as Murray moved 4-0 ahead in the fourth set.
The Le Mans-born 25-year-old also looked to be struggling physically after a testing passage through the first four rounds and, although he avoided a whitewash, the end was swift in coming.
Tsonga saved one match point with a crunching forehand, forcing his opponent to serve it out, and Murray sealed victory in style with a searing forehand winner.
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