Andy Murray is through to the semi-finals at Wimbledon for the fourth consecutive year. The Scot overcame his nerves and the tenacious tennis of David Ferrer to run out a 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 victor.
Many of Murray's performances this year have been characterised by slow starts. Today was no exception as the clearly nervous Scot fell a set and a break down before staging a scintillating fightback.
Ferrer has an unwarranted reputation as a clay court specialist; this is a shallow characterisation of a player who's made the semi-finals of two hard court slams. His performance today was admirable and will do much to address this.
Murray was clearly tight from the outset, happy to keep balls in play and wait for an error from Ferrer. The Spaniard was not in a mood to feed this strategy - for much of the first set Murray found himself meters behind the baseline as Ferrer dictated play as. The Scots forehand was misfiring, with more balls finding the net than the court. Break points in the second game were averted with some fine serving, but Murray was unable to repeat the trick in the fourth games as a loose forehand yielded the break.Read more (332 words)
Ferrer was serving for the set at 5-3 but the pressure of the occasion seemed to get to the normally unflappable Spaniard. Wayward groundstrokes helped Murray to break back before the Scot served his way into the tiebreak. Murray's forehand - which had briefly spluttered into life - once again broke down again and Ferrer took control of the breaker.
The second set followed the same pattern as Murray offered up an early break of serve before striking back and forcing the tiebreak. This time the Scot held his nerve and, despite slipping 2-5 down, fought through to level the match.
The Scot flirted with disaster at the beginning of the third set but held as his serve - now operating at something close to it's best - saved the day. A crucial break at 4-4 followed by a flawless love service game sealed the set and a 2-1 lead.
Ferrer refused to fold and continued to exert pressure on the Murray service game. Both players fended off break points in the fourth set and the Spaniard looked down and out at 4-4, 15-40. Some audacious shot making was required to avert the danger and establish a 5-4 lead. Murray was unphased and a series of howitzer serves drew the scores level again.
With the set in the balance the heavens opened and the roof lumbered into action. When play resumed both players enjoyed quick fired service games to force the tiebreak. Murray upped his aggression and this, coupled with his serve, proved the difference. An exchange of mini-breaks, a crashing forehand and one ace later and the Scot was into the semis. Center court breathed a sigh of relief and Murray gestured to the heavens. Is this finally his year?
Nerves aside, Murray handled a difficult opponent with composure and resiliance. To reach the semi-finals for the fourth time is a tremendous achievement and Murray will fancy his chances against Tsonga, who he beat in the quarter finals two years ago.