Andy Murray is back in the Wimbledon semifinals, and this time he’s not facing Rafael Nadal, the 11-time Grand Slam champion who ended his past two title bids at the All England Club.
Murray yesterday overcame another Spaniard, the No. 7 seed David Ferrer, in four sets in a three hour, 52-minute contest featuring long baseline exchanges on Centre Court. He’ll face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France for a place in the final.
“I’m in a good position,” said Murray, who leads Tsonga 5-1 in career meetings. “Whether it’s the best chance or not, I’m not sure. But I’ve been in this position a few times now and want to push on.”
Nadal was knocked out of the tournament in the second round by 100th-ranked Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic. The second-seeded Nadal and the fourth-seeded Murray had been drawn in the same half. Nadal beat Murray in the 2010 and 2011 semifinals.
Today at Wimbledon, No. 8 seed Angelique Kerber of Germany plays third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in a women’s semifinal. Four-time singles champion Serena Williams of the U.S. takes on reigning Australian Open title holder Victoria Azarenka of Belarus.
The men’s semifinals are scheduled for tomorrow.
“Jo’s a tough opponent,” Murray said about facing Tsonga, who beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 yesterday. “He served I think very well so far this tournament. It’s a very different match to playing against Rafa, but he’s one of the best grass-court players in the world, that’s for sure.”
It will be Tsonga’s second straight Wimbledon semifinal. He beat six-time champion Roger Federer of Switzerland in last year’s quarterfinals, coming back from two sets to love down.
Federer yesterday defeated Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny in straight sets to set up his first grass-court encounter with defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the other semifinal. Djokovic beat Germany’s Florian Mayer, also in straight sets.
Murray said he’s been trying to visualize what it would be like to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win the title.
“I spent some time here during the year sitting on the court when there was no one else there just thinking what it was like,” he said after his 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) win over Ferrer. “It’s become more and more special to me the more years I’ve played. I’ve started to understand how important it is to tennis.”
Tsonga, the No. 5 seed, said he would rather have played Ferrer than Murray for a spot in his first Wimbledon final.
‘Tough for Me’
“Andy’s one of the players I don’t like to play because he’s returning really well and he can play some really good passing shots,” Tsonga told reporters. “He’s really quick. He’s all the time on the ball, so it’s tough for me.”
As happened in previous years, “Murray Mania” has increased the further he’s advanced. U.K. media have been reporting daily on anything from Murray’s practice sessions, to his coach Ivan Lendl and his dog, Maggie May.
“Subconsciously I’m probably extremely stressed out right now, but I try not to feel it,” Murray said when asked how he deals with carrying national expectations. “Then, when the tournament’s done, there’s normally a pretty big release of that. I just don’t want to be on the court for a few weeks.”