Andy Murray outserved six-foot-eight (2.03-meter) Jerzy Janowicz to set up a Wimbledon men’s final tomorrow against Novak Djokovic.
Murray defeated the first man from Poland in a major semifinal 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 to move into his second straight title match at the All England Club in southwest London and fourth in a row in a Grand Slam in which he’s played.
Top seed Djokovic hit 22 aces earlier yesterday to overcome Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina in the longest men’s semifinal in Wimbledon history and maintain his chance of a second championship at the grass-court tennis tournament.
“Very tough match today, completely different from any of the other matches I have played so far,” Murray said in a televised interview. “He hit some huge serves out there, gave me very little rhythm,” said Murray, who struck 49 winners including 20 aces.
The women’s final is today, with Germany’s Sabine Lisicki, the 23rd seed, facing France’s Marion Bartoli, the 15th seed. Neither has won a Grand Slam title.
Also today, American twins Bob and Mike Bryan will play Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the men’s doubles final. A victory by the Bryans would give the 35-year-old brothers all four Grand Slam tennis titles plus the Olympic gold medal at the same time, a feat dubbed the “Golden Slam.”
Janowicz, the tournament ace leader before the match, had 43 winners against Murray including nine aces. The top speed on his serve was 143 miles per hour (230 kilometers per hour), giving his opponent about six-tenths of a second to react.
“This year has been a little bit different for me, I was almost expected to get to the final,” Murray said, referring to defending champion Roger Federer and two-time winner Rafael Nadal being knocked out of his half of the draw in the first three days. “Today I was delighted to get through and play in another Wimbledon final.”
The second seed from Britain has lost 11 of his 18 matches against Djokovic, including the last three. Murray won their only match on grass, at the All England Club during the London Olympics. He’s trying to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to capture the singles title at Wimbledon. Virginia Wade was the last Briton to win, in 1977.
The 26-year-old Murray cried on Centre Court after he lost last year’s final to Federer of Switzerland. He responded by beating the 17-time major champion in the gold-medal match at the London Olympics, and then won his first major title at the U.S. Open in September by beating Djokovic in the final. Murray was runner-up to Djokovic in Australia, and skipped the French Open this year because of a lower-back injury.
Djokovic beat Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-3 in a match lasting 4 hours, 43 minutes.
“It was one of the best matches I’ve been part of,” said Djokovic, a six-time major champion and the 2011 Wimbledon winner. “It was one of the most exciting. It was so close, you couldn’t separate us. That’s why he’s a Grand Slam champion. Every time he’s in a tough situation, he comes up with an amazing shot.”
Their match topped the previous tournament semifinal record of 4:01, set by Boris Becker of Germany and Ivan Lendl of the Czech Republic in 1989. Becker won that meeting.
Janowicz saved two set points against Murray with a pair of booming serves at 5-4 down before taking the first set in a tiebreaker as Murray double faulted.
The Pole’s serve faltered in the opening game of the second set as he double faulted twice. After saving two break points at 4-3 with two big serves, Murray took the second set 6-4 with a 130 mph ace and three service winners.
Having complained to the umpire about a lack of light, and asking when the roof would be closed, Janowicz raced to a 4-1 lead in the third set when his game unraveled. As darkness set in and the wind picked up, Murray rattled off five straight games to win the set 6-4.
Then it was Murray’s turn to get angry, as he argued with supervisor Andrew Jarrett about play being stopped, saying there was plenty of light left for a fourth set.
After a half-hour delay, Murray continued where he left off, breaking early to go up 4-3. He broke the Pole’s serve again, this time taking the match, on a forehand error.
“I didn’t play my best tennis,” Janowicz said. “It was my second-worst match of the tournament. I was struggling with my serve, and everything collapsed off of this. But deep down, I’m happy because it was my first time in a grand slam semifinal.”