THE CHAMPIONSHIPS 2012
Murray Ends 74-Year Wait For British Wimbledon Finalist
by ATP Staff|
Andy Murray has become the first British man in 74 years to reach the Wimbledon final after beating France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 on Friday in the second semi-final at the All England Club. The last homegrown player to win the men’s singles title was Fred Perry in 1936.
Describing his emotions after the match, Murray said, "Bit of relief, excitement, it’s tough to explain. It was such a close match in the end; the last two sets both of us had chances. He had the break points at 4-4 and I managed to hang tough. I’m so happy to be through."
The 25-year-old Scot will face six-time former champion Roger Federer in Sunday’s final at The Championships after the Swiss dispatched Novak Djokovic in four sets in the first semi-final. Murray has an 8-7 lead over Federer in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but has never beaten the Swiss in a best-of-five-set clash.
Murray is bidding to win his first Grand Slam championship in his fourth final. He finished runner-up to Federer at the 2008 US Open and at the 2010 Australian Open and missed out again in Melbourne a year later when he fell to Djokovic.
Looking to build on a 5-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head advantage against Tsonga, Murray made the stronger start to the match and broke serve in the second game. He converted his second break point opportunity with a drilled backhand up the line for a 2-0 lead.
The Scot rallied from a 15/40 deficit in the fifth game and offered Tsonga no further opportunities to work his way back into the set. He served it out to 15 in the ninth game after 34 minutes with his fifth forehand winner.
Murray was able to quickly capitalise on his momentum. After being denied on a 15/40 opportunity in the fifth game, the Scot engineered a third chance with a backhand return winner past the net-rushing Tsonga. He converted it as the Frenchman pulled a forehand wide on another point lost behind his second serve. At that stage, Tsonga had won just 13 per cent of points on his second serve. Murray then went on to serve out the two-set lead in 71 minutes as Tsonga sliced a backhand long.
At the start of the third set Tsonga raised his intensity and was rewarded instantly with a 0/40 opportunity in Murray’s opening service game. The Le Mans native converted his first chance with a booming return that pushed Murray back and the Scot missed a forehand pass up the line. Both players squandered break point chances in the ensuing game, Tsonga denied on a point for 4-0 and Murray disappointed on three break back chances in the fifth game. Tsonga closed out the 41-minute set on serve in the ninth game as Murray netted a backhand return.
Murray takes 15/40 lead in fourth game with forehand winner and he takes first one as Tsonga volleys long 3-1. Tsonga immediately has the chance to break back with an inspired backhand pass. Saved with an unreturned serve. Tsonga gets a second chance and takes it as Murray nets a backhand off a powerful return.
The fourth set made for agonising viewing for British fans. Murray went up 3-1 as Tsonga volleyed long, but the Frenchman immediately broke back with a powerful return of serve doing the damage. Murray was then denied on two break points in the eighth game before finding himself under pressure at 15/40 in the following game. The right-hander was spared with an unreturned serve and then held his breath as Tsonga teed up and missed a second serve return.
In the 12th game Tsonga netted a forehand volley to give Murray two match points. With the Centre Court holding its breath, Murray ripped a forehand return winner and dropped his racquet in relief, only to realise the shot had been called out and he needed to challenge. Seconds later it was confirmed the Scot’s forehand had caught the line and he was embraced by Tsonga. The match lasted two hours and 47 minutes and saw Murray hit 40 winners to just 12 unforced errors.
"I started the match really well, served really well," assessed Murray immediately after the match. "One loose game at the start of the third set and he came back into it. He was hitting some unbelievable passing shots, volleys. I did well to hang in there in the end because he started to play really well."
"I think at the beginning it was tough because he played well," said Tsonga. "He didn't give me one chance to go to the net. He didn't miss one serve. He was really, really good. After that his level was a bit down in the third set and I took my chance. But after that he broke me in the fourth. I think he deserved it.
"For me anyway it's positive because it's the semis. It gives me the energy to continue to fight, to improve my game and try to win something like this."
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