Second seed Andy Murray survived a ferocious Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comeback to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals for the seventh yesterday, winning the day’s second Centre Court blockbuster 7-6(10), 6-1, 3-6, 4-6, 6-1.
After Roger Federer’s miraculous earlier escape act against Marin Cilic, when he recovered to win from two sets down, 12th seeded Frenchman Tsonga threatened something equally improbable as dusk settled at the All England Club.
Tsonga looked down and out after letting an epic 22-point tiebreak slip away despite having three set points, then capitulating in a one-sided second set.
But he roared back with some audacious attacking tennis and Britain’s 2013 champion Murray, for the first time in a tournament that had been stress-free before, seemed close to buckling. Second seed Murray, hot favourite after champion Novak Djokovic’s third-round demise, was outplayed in sets three and four as winners flowed from Tsonga’s racket.
He then had to save a break point at the start of the decider, rediscovering his earlier form and racing away to a victory cheered by a packed arena, sealing it with an ace.
The 29-year-old now sets his sights on Czech 10th seed Tomas Berdych in Friday’s semi-final. Earlier, Czech 10th seed Tomas Berdych cruised into his second Wimbledon semi-final, grinding into gear after a slow start to end Frenchman’s Lucas Pouille’s unexpected love-affair with the All England turf in straight sets. Carrying more court time than any other quarter-finalist, Berdych started slowly against the 22-year-old Pouille, the 32nd and lowest seed in the draw and a man who had never won a match on grass before his eye-opening streak of the past 10 days.
“Lucas had a great run. I was trying to find my rhythm in the first set,” said Berdych, 30, whose best grand slam showing was at Wimbledon in 2010 when he lost to Rafael Nadal in the final.
2-Andy Murray (Britain) beat 12-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (France) 7-6(10) 6-1 3-6 4-6 6-1
10-Tomas Berdych (Czech Republic) beat 32-Lucas Pouille (France) 7-6(4) 6-3 6-2
3-Roger Federer (Switzerland) beat 9-Marin Cilic (Croatia) 6-7(4) 4-6 6-3 7-6(9) 6-3
6-Milos Raonic (Canada) beat 28-Sam Querrey (U.S.) 6-4 7-5 5-7 6-4
Great Britain’s Andy Murray celebrates a point during his match against France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.