Wimbledon 2013: All you need to know about Andy Murray's semi-final opponent Jerzy Janowicz

Towering and popular Pole can claim national first in a male Slam by shooting down Murray


Jerzy Janowicz is new to a lot of things, including Wimbledon semi-finals. What emerges is the value of inexperience. You cannot stress over stuff about which you know zip. So don't expect Janowicz to overthink the challenge of facing Andy Murray on Centre Court this afternoon, tennis territory no Polish male has ever negotiated.

By way of illustration, Davis Cup team-mate Mariusz Fyrstenberg, relays the story of Janowicz's debut on a golf course earlier this year during the Indian Wells tournament in the United States. "This was his first time on the course, so I tried to teach him all the basics about golf etiquette. But I forgot to tell him that he cannot drive his golf cart on to the green," Frystenberg said.

"So, I see from 200 yards, that he had parked just one metre away from the hole and is relaxing there. I then saw this woman come up and give him some advice. So when I got to the green, I asked 'What did she tell you?' He said, 'Can you believe that the woman was teaching me how to drive?'''

For golf buggies on greens read tanks on Centre Court. That is the impression created when a man standing 6ft 8in fires furry missiles in your direction at 140mph. The military imagery is not too far-fetched in the example of Janowicz, a 22-year-old immersed in computer game culture, whose favourite PlayStation game is Call Of Duty, a virtual war zone where guns are the ultimate arbiter.

He brings to the piece not only weaponry that has thus far blown away all and sundry but a sense of inscrutable menace. Lukasz Kubot watched 30 aces whistle by his racket while pinned to the court during the historic all-Polish quarter-final.

Murray knows all about the threat he faces, having been erased from the Paris Masters by the biggest right hand in tennis last October. The Scot's freshly-minted status as Olympic and US Open champion meant diddly to the free-swinging albatross from Lodz. It was that run to the final, where he lost to David Ferrer, that alerted the tennis circuit to the emergence of a serious prospect.

It also put an end to the relative poverty that forced him to pass up the chance of a first Grand Slam appearance in Australia because he could not afford the cost of a plane ticket. His parents, both volleyball players of repute, sold their sports shop in Lodz to help fund his junior career. The dividend from that would buy a chain of outlets now.

There is also an emotional component that endears. The congress with the turf after his victory over Kubot and the topless, tearful embrace that followed catapulted him into the hearts of the British public, whose infatuation with Murray might easily pass to him should he gun our hero down. In the best traditions of the passionate, Janowicz's combustible nature leads him into exchanges he might otherwise regret, not least the inflamed outburst in Australia this year when he fried a line judge. "You only have one line to watch, it's not that complicated," he said, moving into dangerous John McEnroe country.

His preparations were low key, with none of the fanfare that preceded the quarter-final with Kubot. There were no staged pictures on Wimbledon rooftops and after hitting at Aorangi Park with Finnish coach Kimi Tiilikainen, he declined to speak even with Polish journalists detailed to document his every move. The Polish story now depends on him after the epic defeat in the women's semi-final of Agnieszka Radwanska. Today, he had eyes only for Murray.

Tall order: Other tennis giants

Ivo Karlovic, 6ft 10in

The 34-year-old Croat is the tallest player to compete on the ATP tour. Quarter-finalist here in 2009.

John Isner, 6ft 9in

World No 21 has six career titles and contested an 11-hour SW19 epic with Nicolas Mahut in 2010.

Kevin Anderson, 6ft 8in

The South African, 27, is world No 23. Made this year's third round.

Kenny de Schepper, 6ft 8in

Frenchman was beaten by Fernando Verdasco in fourth round.


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