Andy Murray reached his second successive Wimbledon final with a dramatic 6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Jerzy Janowicz. The Pole, playing in his first ever Slam semi final, acquitted himself admirably but was unable to cope with Murray's tenacity and strength of will.
Janowicz has rather unfairly earned a reputation as a servebot. It's true that the Pole's first delivery is his biggest weapon, but he also possesses a howitzer forehand and surprisingly good movement for such a tall man. The only glaring weakness in his game is the return of serve - especially when facing kick and slice. Murray was clearly aware of this and throughout the match emphasised placement over outright power on his own first delivery.
Rather predictably the first set was entirely service dominated. Murray managed to earn a toehold in most games, but it wasn't until 5-4 that the Scot forced a break opportunity. A crackerjack backhand earned 15-30 before an unforced error made if 15-40. Janowicz, betraying absolutely no signs of nerves, pounded down two un-returnable serves to evade the danger. There were no more chances for either player and a tiebreak was required.
(283.88 KB. 600x388 - viewed 10924 times.)
After being comfortable all set, Murray played an atrocious tiebreaker. A succession of short balls and unforced errors were punished and the Scot quickly found himself 2-6 down. He promptly double faulted before stalking back to his chair with a scowl.
Janowicz, icy calm up to this point, now began to look like a player in his first Slam semi. An unforced error and two double faults at the start of the second yielded the first break of the match. Murray fought through a series of edgy service games but managed to maintain the advantage and eventually take the set.
Any thoughts of a quick conclusion in Murray's favour were quickly extinguished by an early break of serve for Janowicz's. Murray fought hard to overturn the deficit, but was teetering on the brink. The Scot's baseline game was in disarray and his earlier service success was absent.
Dramatic changes in momentum are something of a theme in Murray matches, and once again the Scot recovered from a seemingly doomed situation. Six games in succession secured the set from 1-4 down and Murray had one foot in the final.
With the clock ticking towards 20:30, the match umpire controversially opted to suspend play and close the roof. Murray's joy at winning the set was quickly replaced with rage and he argued at length with the officials, to no avail.
When play resumed nearly half an hour later the world number two channeled his anger. Janowicz wilted under a fusillade of howitzer ground strokes and pin-point serving. Murray cantered to victory, losing just two points on his serve and breaking Janowicz twice. Fittingly the final shot of the match - a punishing return winner - mirrored the one that earned Murray his first Wimbledon final. On that occasion he simply looked at the heavens; this time round he raised his arms in jubilation and roared in delight.
Novak Djokovic awaits in the final.