Murray squeaks past Verdasco in thriller

By for on
When the Wimbledon draw was made, Andy Murray might have expected a tough encounter with a Spaniard in the quarter-finals. Little did he know how tough or indeed the identity of the Spaniard. The man in question was not Rafael Nadal but Fernando Verdasco, who Murray squeaked past today by the nailbiting score of 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 7-5.

The Scot began the match in a throwback to his more passive days, drifting arced groundshots into the Spanish number nine’s strike zone and ducking for cover when Verdasco’s pulverising forehands repeatedly found the corners of the Centre Court.

The world number two persisted with his strategy of passive mindgaming, perhaps encouraged by his opponent’s ferocious forehand, too big on occasion to be harnessed by the confines of the court.

Serving at 4-5 and flirting with the outside edge of the white lines, Murray drifted to 30-40 and double-faulted under scoreboard pressure to hand the set to the Spaniard.

Matters improved for the Scot at the start of the second set. Although still taking the ball a bus journey from the baseline, the British number one profited from a Verdasco forehand that was wild as the wind to steal a break for 2-1.

Murray converted on his own serve, but then the Verdasco forehand clicked into gear once more, the ball rearing off the turf like a startled stallion. The Spaniard drew level at 3-3 and then capitalised on Murray’s nerves to break for 5-3, assisted by a shocking ball that clipped the net and died.

Although Murray made it to 0-30 in the next game, care of a screaming cross-court forehand that capped a 28-shot rally, he misfired while vacillating between passive and aggressive and the set drifted away.

Facing both a man and a mountain, the Scot rallied, taking the initiative from Verdasco and striking over 40% of balls inside the baseline, almost twice the figure from the previous sets.

Now the Scot was ripping into Verdasco, taking the bite out of the Spaniard’s shots and the heart out of his game. At 5-1, a deft dropshot followed by a routine volley gave Murray the third set. Just as the sun shed its first light on Centre Court, there was at last a ray of hope for the world number two.

Murray clung on for much of the fourth set, but managed the decisive move at 3-3 thanks to a wild Verdasco forehand, and the crowd was suddenly out of their seats and driving their man into a decisive fifth.

Although Verdasco lives or dies by his blood-and-thunder game, his mental strength can be eggshell-thin, and so it proved at 5-5, 30-all. In a pulsating 20-stroke rally that used every blade of grass, Murray desperately hoiked returns to the backhand of the former world number seven, painting the lines and setting up a break point.

At 30-40, the Scot belted a forehand deep behind the world number 54 and Verdasco’s reply sailed long. The crowd rose as one and Murray bellowed into the early-evening air and prepared to serve out for a spot in the semis.

A piledriven forehand, a wide slice and a sweetly soaring ace brought him to three match points, and when Verdasco went long on a forehand, Wimbledon Centre Court erupted in an ear-bursting crescendo that spoke as much of relief as jubilation.

Murray said, "He served unbelievably well, especially when he was behind. In the first set, he played some really good stuff; in the second set, my level dropped and I started rushing a bit, but just managed to turn it round.

"He's a very, very good player. He's been at the top of the game before and he's playing well again. I started to play more solid and really took my time when I had the chance."

Murray will need similar reserves of courage and willpower in Friday’s semi-final when he takes on 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz, who disposed of his friend and compatriot Lukas Kubot in three rather more comfortable sets.
Excellent report of a classic encounter.
July 03, 2013, 09:30 PM
By Fiverings

I could relive the ups and downs of the match with your report. What else can you ask for. Well done! Let 's hope for an equally positive report for the Sf.
July 03, 2013, 09:38 PM
By counter_ puncher

I could relive the ups and downs of the match with your report. What else can you ask for. Well done! Let 's hope for an equally positive report for the Sf.

I agree with this. A great report with all the main points covered - thanks !
July 03, 2013, 09:59 PM
By sidtypical

A very descriptive report Nigel.  It got my nerves jangling again reading it.

I knew this was going to be a tough match but hadn't anticipated just how tough.  Verdasco played very well but Andy showed us, not for the first time, the capacity he has for digging himself out of the hole he's got himself into.  A great fightback and great mental fortitude.  Well done, Andy!

July 03, 2013, 11:01 PM
By Aileen

Good report Ngel, thanks.  Andy summed it up in that disgraceful interview with the BBC when he said that there were no easy games, Verdasco was a very, very good player in the past and again during Wimbledon.  Andy was right not to underestimate any of his opponents, unlike most of the media in the UK especially the BBC.  Nice respect from Andy to all his opponents
July 03, 2013, 11:31 PM
By Iris

Very good report Nigel, thanks.
July 04, 2013, 01:08 AM
By Rachie

Thanx for that, Grab. Excellent clap
To think we've got to go through that all over again tomorrow. EEK
 nervous already
July 04, 2013, 06:09 AM
By blueberryhill

I was at my daughter's house, looking after my grand children and right at the start of the match, the TV, which had been fine till then, suddenly began to receive bad interference. All I could see was jagged flickering colours and a very occasional glimpse of the scoreboard, and all I could hear was loud crackling noises and an occasional word from the comms. I can't even begin to tell you how frustrated and worried I was. I knew Andy had dropped two sets, but didn't know why and I heard the word 'back' twice from the comms and assumed Andy's back problem had returned. That was me for the first 4 sets!  Rolling Eyes My daughter arrived home from work at the end of the fourth set and retuned the TV. Oh..... the relief when I finally could see and hear what was going on and we sat down with the kids and watched set 5 together. You should have heard the noise we were making, especially during the last two games  w00t....dunno what the neighbours must've thought and didn't care! I suppose you could say we didn't give a hoot, but we did actually.......lot's of them [amidst the squeals, shrieks and laughter]! :lmao Anyway Nigel, having just read your fantastic report, I now feel like I've seen the whole thing! Grateful thanks!  Very Happy
July 04, 2013, 06:57 AM
By Caz

Thanks, Nigel, always an entertaining read!  Well done, Andy. Congratulations on a tough match win.  I knew you could & would do it once you got your foot in the door. It was a happy day at our house and our families far away.
July 04, 2013, 08:07 AM
By adb..OH

Excellent, Nigel. You captured the atmosphere exactly. Many thanks
July 04, 2013, 08:46 AM
By OldScotSupport

add comment | 40 comments