BRITISH No1 Andy Murray is adamant that nothing short of reaching his first Wimbledon final will suffice as he heads into today’s crucial semi-final showdown against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.
Any potential victory would make Murray the first British male to reach the All England Club’s showpiece since Henry Wilfried Austin in 1938, and though his erratic grass-court preparation suggested he should anticipate a difficult tournament, the extraordinary early elimination of world No2 Rafael Nadal means Murray has been presented with an opportunity he believes he cannot afford to pass up.
“When you start each tournament, you want to try and win,” Murray said. “Obviously now that I’m in it, I’m not thinking, ‘Great, I’m in the semi-finals’. You want to try and go further.
“But I know how hard it is. Everyone kept telling me I had such a hard draw and how tough it was going to be to get through. I managed to do that. I’ve beaten some very good players. It’s been a good tournament so far.
“But I want it to continue. I’d be disappointed if I lost before the final in any tournament, but I don’t just expect to get there. It’s a very difficult thing to do. You need to make sure you perform properly.”
Today represents Murray’s fourth foray into the tournament’s final four but though a place in the final has yet to be yielded, in Tsonga he faces an opponent over which he has triumphed in five from six occasions and the Briton will understandably revisit the blueprint laid out by his previous successes.
“Having played Jo quite a lot of times, I know him well,” he said. “We played a lot in the juniors, so I’ve known him for a long time.
“Rather than focusing on it being the semi-finals of Wimbledon, I need to focus on it being a match against him and what I do well against him and what’s worked against him in the past.”
That Tsonga is nursing a finger injury will give Murray greater cause for optimism when his mental strength is certain to be scrutinised; it is at this stage of a grand slam when he has previously appeared vulnerable to growing pressure, but though in this instance Tsonga is also carrying a burden, the flamboyant Frenchman regardless insists that Murray alone is under pressure.
“It will be a totally different match against Andy,” he said. “It’ll be madness. Almost all the crowd will be with him.
“I will have nothing to lose, the pressure will be on him. I’m going to try to play it with a light heart. If I have a chance I’m not going to let it slip.”
In the other semi-final, six-time champion Roger Federer faces reigning champion Novak Djokovic confident in his preparation but believing only his finest form will be capable of securing victory.
“I’ve been playing well for a year now. I’m fresh and ready to go. Only a perfect performance will be enough.”