Murray moves into final to face Federer

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The men’s semis have been played and won and neutral tennis fans the world over will sigh in relief that another Nole-Rafa grind-fest slam final does not await them but instead they will be served up an intriguing contest between perhaps the Greatest player of all time and the best player never to have won a major title.

Andy Murray is that player. Three finals he has made but he has not even won a set in any of them. Now he has another chance to claim one of the games major prizes and a prize that many a tennis pundit believe he is MORE than good enough to win.

In his seventh major semi-final, Mandy played as good a first couple of sets as he ever has in a major match to take a two set to love lead over Tsonga in the Wimbledon semi-finals. In a battle of last year’s losing finalists, it looked as if Mandy might fly through drama-free to his first Wimbledon final. But, of course, that was never going to happen. Not at Wimbledon with the home fans in the stadium and on ‘Henman hill’, now titled ‘Murray Mountain’, and all the millions of viewers watching at home. And not when a British man has not reached the Wimbledon final for 76 years. Anything less than a dramatic match with the hamminess and overwriting of a Dynasty episode would not have done justice to this Mandy match.

And the players delivered the episode we drama queens, and they, the players, too, had been longing for. After a medical time Out at the beginning of the third set, Tsonga had more spring in his step, flew to the net and volleyed, at times sublimely, and took the Match to Murray, his reward being the third set. A sudden air of panic gripped Murray and the fans. It had been too good to be true. Murray was coasting. Now he was tighter. He was back to his passive self. He was waiting for Tsonga to implode. Worse, Tsonga, who had come back against Roger Federer of all champions from two sets to love down the year previous, was not in implode mode and was now playing the kind of attacking tennis he is capable of, the kind of tennis that can take you to a Wimbledon final.

The fourth set was one of the most exciting of the past two weeks as Tsonga and Murray battled it out. Mandy broke early, taking advantage of his opponent’s letdown, but Tsonga, inspired and as desperate as Murray for a shot at the final, broke back, ripping a return on break point. Luckily for Murray that as the match got deeper into the fourth the free swinging Tsonga could not get a return in and Mandy’s second floating serves went unpunished. And fortunately for Mandy, though Tsonga was hitting some winning volleys, he was netting as many as he sent low into the court.

Play went with serve until 5-6 with Tsonga serving. Tsonga, playing with the sun in his eyes, hit two errors, won a point on a smash and then somewhat predictably, netted a volley. On breakpoint, Mandy hit a fierce return that seemed to catch the line. Murray looked up at the sky in disbelief. Finally! Tsonga challended the call and the two men stood at the net as they waited for Hawkeye to deliver its verdict. In. The crowd erupted, the players embraced and a tearful Andy Murray sat in his chair and stared up to the heavens, no doubt thanking the Tennis Gods for finally seeing himn through to the final and wondering how the hell he was going to beat Six time champion Roger Federer in the final. We all know he can beat Roger, he leads their head to head 8-7, but Roger in major finals is a different beast and Mandy has already failed twice to fell him in the final match of a major. Still, the tennis Gods, having removed Nadal from his half, calling never-before-seen foot faults on his big serving opponents, calling curfews that work in his favor, tiring out his opponents in long fifth sets before they meet him, seem to be in favor of a Mandy victory on the grass. But standing before them is another God: The tennis God known as Federer.

Yes, waiting for Andy in the final is none other than a resurgent Roger Federer. True, Roger, if he wins the title, will be number one again and has been anything but quiet on the ATP tour winning titles left right and center, but Major wise, it has been a quiet year with this final appearance his first since Roland Garros 2011.

The Wimbledon King Roger Federer out-served and outhit Novak Djokovic, the man who has been sitting on the throne the last year, to reach his first Wimbledon final since 2009.

Federer, who claimed that the finals had just not been the same without him, not only gave himself the opportunity to extend his record haul of major titles but also earned himself the chance to take the throne again and to claim the record for weeks at number one currently held by Pete Sampras.

The semi-final got off to a pacy start as both men split the first two sets within fifty two minutes. Things slowed down in the third set as in the fifth game Federer pushed for a break.
Djokovic could not find his first serve and Federer had his forehand firing, Fed broke and held his next two serves to take the set.

In the fourth set, there was no letdown for Federer and there were points that were worthy of a major final let alone a major semi with Fed hitting all the shots in the book: forehands down the line, inside out forehands, backhand slice, backhand top spin, volleys, smashes. We saw, once more, how the grass compliments his natural all court game. This game, when in full flow and when Federer takes risks with it, has proved over the years to be too much for other players, and though it has been underwhelming the last few years, it was well and truly overwhelming for Novak yesterday. Fed frontran as good as he ever has and Novak’s shot erred out more than in and all the running in the world from the Serbian was not going to be enough to stop the Great man in his tracks. At 5-3, Federer served for the match and on match point fired down a service winner that put him into the final and the opportunity to claim his throne and wear his crown once more on the grassy top of Mount Olympos.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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