The Brit beat Jerzy Janowicz in a memorable day on Centre Court
Last year’s runner-up – seeking to become the first home men’s singles winner in 77 years – booked a date with top seed Novak Djokovic following a 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 win over world number 24 Jerzy Janowicz.
Djokovic – who Murray beat to win his first Slam in New York last year – had earlier secured his progress with a victory over Juan Martin Del Potro that had redefined epic and rewritten the history books.
Murray’s semi-final was equally high on drama, though the nature of his big-serving rival made the encounter tense if not immense.
And there was controversy too – Murray fuming at the decision to close the roof at 8.42pm, especially after he had finally established momentum against a rival that was proving difficult to dispatch.
“I’m delighted, it was a very tough match against a very talented and unpredicatable player,” said Murray. “He hit some big serves and gave me very little rhythm.
“The first set was tight, I had a few chances but he came out with some big shots and he got on a roll, but I managed to turn it round.
“This feels very different to last year but I’m delighted to get through to another Wimbledon final. Novak played an incredible semi-final and I’ve only played him once on grass, at the Olympics last year, and I will take that thought into the final on Sunday.”
This was Murray’s fifth consecutive Wimbledon semi-final while 22-year old Janowicz was appearing in only his fifth Grand Slam tournament – and was making his debut on the hallowed Centre Court.
But the giant Pole certainly showed no signs of nerves, booming down a succession of big serves, averaging over 130mph, to prevent the second seed establishing any kind of range or rhythm.
Janowicz – 6’8″ from the tip of head to the bottom of his monogrammed socks – had been broken just four times in his first five matches at the All England Club and Murray could have regretted spurning two first set points at 6-5.
The British number one, a famed returner, initially struggled to read the bullets coming down from the racquet of his rival, though he was hardly serving poorly either – dropping just five points on serve during a close fought opener.
But Janowicz, who last year had to qualify for Wimbledon, established an early advantage in the tie-break and Murray’s only double fault gifted his opponent the set and silenced the partisan home crowd.
Murray quickly made amends with a break early in the second and, after some nervy moments and some big saves on serve, levelled the match to put the pressure back on his inexperienced opponent.
Only last year, Janowicz lost to British number 15 David Rice at a lowly Challenger event in Sheffield and Murray’s resilience put him deeper into uncharted waters.
But the second seed wasn’t making his own life easy, gifting and then repeatedly saving break points though at the seventh time of asking Janowicz seized his chance.
Murray though responded, in the same way he did in his quarter-final with Fernando Verdasco, with a determined performance of ruthless stubbornness.
Pumped up by some stunning winners and a crackling atmosphere, he won five games in a row to clinch the third set in what was becoming an increasingly tetchy encounter.
But with light fast fading, referee Andrew Jarrett decided to close the roof, with Murray labelling the decision ‘ridiculous’ and fuming that his call was not ‘fair’ and pandered to Janowicz, who been complaining about the light since the second set.
The Pole reached his only ATP Tour final indoors in Paris last year but no player has more experience under Wimbledon’s roof than Murray and after a break of 30 minutes the match recommenced.
And that, perhaps, was decisive, Murray taking an early lead in the fourth set, which he wrapped up in just over 30 minutes.
In the final analysis, he even outserved his rival, banging down 20 aces to Janowicz’s nine in a victory completed in two hours and 52 minutes.
Earlier, Djokovic and del Potro had battled it out for four hours and 43 minutes, the longest men’s semi-final in Wimbledon history, before the Serb emerged a 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 winner.
Djokovic will now seek to regain the title he won in 2011 in an 11th Grand Slam final appearance, which surpasses the achievements of Boris Becker and equals tennis legends John McEnroe, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.
“It was one of the best matches that I’ve been a part of,” said Djokovic. “One of the most exciting and epic matches of my life, it was so close.
“I just couldn’t separate us. Every time he was in a tough situation he came up with a great shot.”
Djokovic and Murray have played 18 times and the record is 11-7 in the Serbian’s favour, who has also won their three matches since the Scot’s five set victory in the final at Flushing Meadows last September.
But Murray won their only meeting on grass – in the semi-finals of the London 2012 Olympics and we all know what happened after that.
Photo courtesy of by Carine06, with thanks.
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