Solo Dance Martin Jensen
7 July 2016, 07:51
Andy Murray was feeling positive about his Wimbledon chances despite having to survive a nerve-shredding five-setter against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals.
The world number two looked set for another comfortable outing on Centre Court when he took the first two sets but Tsonga fought back to level, only for Murray to prevail 7-6 (12/10) 6-1 3-6 4-6 6-1 after three hours and 53 minutes.
Murray has made a habit of fighting back from two sets down but this time it was Tsonga threatening to do the improbable.
Yet Murray has only ever lost once having won the first two sets and, after telling his box he was not going to lose this one, he delivered superbly to set up a last-four clash with Tomas Berdych.
The Scot said: "I was definitely tested a lot. This was a really hard, hard match to come through.
"I think it can give you a bit of confidence. It can help to go through games and stages in matches that are challenging. If you're in that position in the next couple of matches, you know you've been there.
"So I'm hoping it helps me the next couple of rounds.''
The crunch moments arrived at the start of the fifth set.
Tsonga had played superbly to win four games in a row to finish the fourth, hitting his serve with power and accuracy, thumping his forehand and finding unexpected winners off his supposedly weaker backhand wing.
Murray's frustration was evident as he screamed at himself and his box - despite the supposedly calming presence of Ivan Lendl.
He saved a break point in the opening game as Tsonga threatened again and then mouthed at his box: ``No way I'm going to lose this match.''
It quickly became clear he would keep that promise, reeling off five games in a row and then clinching victory with his 14th ace.
Murray has won 23 of the 30 five-set matches he has played, with four of his defeats coming when he was a teenager.
The 29-year-old said: "There's many things that go into winning matches like that. There's not one thing that's more important than another.
"Physically, you're strong, that helps for sure. But mentally, this was a tough match. It would have been easy to have gotten very down on myself in that fifth set after the way the fourth set ended. I was happy (that I didn't).
"Then you also have to be able to play good tennis in the most important moments. I think both of us did that.''
Murray has to cope, of course, not just with his own expectations but the hopes of the country, which have been sky high since the elimination of Novak Djokovic.
Amid political and economic uncertainty and the end of Wales' run in the European Championship, Murray was told by a reporter he was the nation's last hope.
"It's not that bad, is it,'' he said with a smile.
"There's a lot more hopes left than me.
"I just try my best at this event to make all the people that watch happy.
"Hopefully I can win a couple more.''
Thursday is women's semi-finals day at the All England Club, with Serena and Venus Williams looking to beat Elena Vesnina and Angelique Kerber respectively to set up a first final meeting since 2009.