Even on grass a rocket-launched serve is not enough, whether under azure skies or translucent glass. Andy Murray proved as much as he withstood everything the giant Pole Jerzy Janowicz could serve at him to move into his second successive Wimbledon men's singles final.
Murray lost the first set on a disastrous tie-break, then was furious when, two sets to one up with the momentum behind him, play was suspended due to bad light while the Centre Court roof was closed. Channelling that fury he re-emerged to take the match 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in 35 additional minutes.
Murray will now play Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday. It may have been a Wimbledon of shocks but the top two sets have made the denouement. It will be their 18 meeting, Djokovic leads 11-7 and won the last match-up, in the Australian Open final in January, but the Scottish No.2 beat the Serb No.1 at Wimbledon in the Olympics – their only clash on grass - and in the final of the US Open last autumn.
Murray was up against a 6ft 8in Pole who fired 140mph first serves and 121mph second serves but there is more than one way to produce an ace and Murray's out-served his opponent with his placement and slice enabling him to deliver them at speeds as slow as 106mph. Having matched the Pole at the service line his superior all-round game ensured victory.
The pair had endured a long wait to get onto court while Djokovic and Juan Del Potro slugged out the longest semi-final in Wimbledon history, four hours and 43 minutes, the top seed finally prevailing. It was Murray, a Centre Court veteran, who then settled quickest dropping just seven points in his six first set service games. Janowicz produced a double-fault before he got his Howitzer service going and while he then delivered 135mph-plus thunderbolts on a regular basis Murray forced a break point in the fourth game and two set points in the tenth. Each were saved on service. So to the tie-break and, unexpectedly, Murray's serve suddenly seized up as he lost 7-2 concluding on a double-fault.
Murray responded strongly breaking Janowicz in the opening game of the second set, but he blew two chances to make it a double-break and grab a 4-1 lead. Instead Janowicz had the chance to break back at 2-3 and 3-4. On both occasions Murray held before serving out to level at a set apiece.
Janowicz began the tournament out in the boondocks of the outer courts and was in his first Grand Slam semi-final, but he was not overawed and not going to go quietly. He broke Murray to take a 3-1 lead with one of his many deft drop shots. Janowicz held to go 4-1 up and Murray looked in deep trouble. The turning point came when Murray broke back at 2-4 down when the Pole's drop shot let him down. Centre Court initially cheered with delight then, Murray having revved them up with his arms, roared their approval. Murray delivered a series of aces to hold his own serve then broke again. The shift in mood fractured Janowicz's equilibrium, the giant double-faulting in the wake of being booed after rapping the net following a lost point, then.
Murray then won his fifth successive game to take the set only for Janowicz, who had been complaining about the light for some time, to depart in a dark mood for a toilet break. At this point the match referee, Andrew Jarrod, arrived to tell Murray the roof would be closed because of the fading light. Murray argued vociferously, but to no avail.
When the players returned Murray broke immediately backing it up to take a 2-0 lead. The game then went with serve until Murray broke again, appropriately enough lashing a return past Janowicz to settle the tie.Reuse content