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There had to be a Murraycoaster somewhere along the way. Fighting past Jo-Wilfred Tsonga in five sets Andy Murray has won his 100th grass court match and earned a place in his seventh Wimbledon semi-final, where he'll face the tenth seed Tomas Berdych, who defeated surprise quarter-finalist Lucas Pouille in a straightforward three set match on Court 1.
Andy and Berdych have met at this stage of the 2012 US Open and the 2015 Australian Open. Both times the match was significant - in 2012 he went on to lift his first slam trophy, and in 2015 the tense semi-final would see him return to the slam finalists' circle after an eighteen month absence. On each occasion the match went to four sets with the Czech man taking the first in both matches. Andy has never won a slam semi-final in less than four sets, and in six out of the ten he has won he has dropped the first set.
Berdych has been slightly under the radar at the championships after. Entering Roland Garros on the back of a poor clay Masters season he reached the quarter-finals there, and Wimbledon with an even poorer record on grass, few expected him to do much damage in the draw. After the early losses of Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Theim, the world number nine has made the most of the draw opening up, but it hasn't been a smooth run to the semis - he's dropped sets to Ivan Dodig, Alexander Zverev, and Jiri Vesely along the way. Indeed more attention has probably paid to his late night fourth set tiebreak against Vesely than to his form this tournament. On the whole he is serving solidly, moving well along the baseline, moving up the forecourt, and returning well.
Andy had his first big test of the tournament against Tsonga, and many will be hoping that it serves to sharpen his focus over the remaining days. In the past Berdych has proved a tricky opponent for the world number two, and for a time was the more dominant player in their head-to-head, but that all seemed to change at the beginning 2015 when Andy started to play much more aggressively against a man he'd often allowed to bully him around the court. Their semi-final in Melbourne was the last time Andy dropped a set to the Czech, since then he has been routined by Andy in Miami, Shanghai, and Madrid.
Andy has seemed to enter their matches sharply focused and in a mood to destroy. Theories about why this might be centre on the coaching arrangements of the two players. Inspired by Wawrinka's win in Melbourne in 2014, Berdych believed he could be the next man to surprise everyone and approached Ivan Lendl in the summer of 2014. Berdych admitted to finding it difficult seeing the Czech-born American by Andy's side through 2012-2013, believing that some sort of national connection meant Lendl should have been with him. Lendl turned him down, but reportedly recommended Andy's assistant coach Dani Vallverdu for the job, so Berdych went about poaching Vallverdu from Andy's team that autumn. The rest, as they say, is history.
At a guess Andy's 'seek and destroy' approach to playing Berdych since the beginning of 2015 might also come down to locker room misogyny over Andy's 2014 appointment of Amelie Mauresmo following Lend's departure that March - the culprits have remained unnamed but there has been something in Andy's eye during these matches that suggests this is more than a 'bit of needle' over Vallverdu. More recently things have taken an interesting turn. Lendl has returned to Andy's side and Berdych has unceremoniously sacked Vallverdu - a young man who Lendl is extremely fond of, almost to the extent that he treat him like a son. Berdych is currently coachless, and given he is the only man other than Andy to have reached all three slam quarter-finals so far this year it may not have been the worst choice to have made.
Tennis aside there is a good chance that there will be an 'atmosphere' between these two on Centre Court on Friday afternoon. Andy absolutely knows how to best Berdych, and if he can maintain his 'seek and destroy' approach to taking out the Czech, with the aggressive use of variety and all-court tactics he has dismantled Berdych with on four occasions in eighteen months, we can hope that the semi-finals will be more straightforward than the quarters were. He'll need to do some things better though; most notably his forehand and net approaches - neither of which were strengths against Tsonga on Wednesday.
Andy leads the head-to-head 8-6. They have never faced each other on grass.
The match will be played on Centre Court on Friday 8th July. The match is scheduled to be played second following Federer vs Raonic, with play starting at 1pm Andy's estimated start time is 4pm. Rain is forecast throughout the morning, but expected to clear from midday onwards and the best weather forecast for late afternoon and early evening. Highs of 21 degrees Celsius, a south-westerly wind of 12mph with gusts of up to 22mph, with humidity of 65% when Andy is due to play.