Wimbledon 2013: Jerzy Janowicz's huge serve is big threat for Andy Murray in semi-final
The British number one takes on the Pole on Friday
Wimbledon has a new hero, all 6ft 8in of him. And the love spreads way beyond Warsaw. Jerzy Janowicz is a giant in touch with his feminine side. The climax of this all-Polska quarter-final in which he became the first Polish male to progress to a Grand Slam semi-final – against Andy Murray – ended in half-naked hugs and tears over the net with vanquished countrymen Lukasz Kubot.
In the immediacy of his 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 win he could barely manage a sentence such was the size of the lump in his throat. "I'm just really happy. I did not expect to go so far. I have not many words," Janowicz said. "I doesn't matter if I'm the first [Pole]. This is my first semi-final."
The first nine games took only 24 minutes. No rally in that sequence lasted longer than seven strokes. Janowicz began the 10th game with his eighth ace. His fastest serve was sent down at twice the national speed limit, or, for those for whom arithmetic is not a strong suit, 140mph.
Kubot finally surrendered service in the 11th game to invite Janowicz to serve for the opening set. Thanks very much, he said, and duly delivered. The break in the second set came in the pivotal seventh game. At the change of ends that followed Janowicz was visited by the trainer, who developed the taping of his right elbow into the shape of a Maori tattoo.
Not that his racket arm needed the assistance of some ancient South Sea spirit. The aces continued to rain down, the total reaching 19 as he served out the set with another, and 30 by the end. Kubot's defensive shield was full of holes as he pondered what he might do to stem the barrage. There was nothing he could do, of course. Janowicz is a force of nature new to this setting just a year ago, but with a talent deep enough to lay down serious roots in SW19.
Kubot did not play badly. He simply did not have enough game to make a fight of it, particularly when receiving. Getting a serve back merely triggered a groundstroke of similarly wicked velocity. As a spectacle the Janowicz blueprint might lack variety but it is awesome nonetheless in its rasping brutality. "My best result ever," he said after recovering a degree of composure. "One of the toughest matches of my life."
Kubot said this story might have an even happier ending for his compatriot. "He has the potential to be a top-five player. He is in the semi-finals. Let's see what is going to happen."
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