Murray’s on Tsong ahead of semi-final showdown

BRITISH No1 Andy Murray has admitted he will have to be at his best if he is to advance beyond France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the final at Wimbledon for the first time in his career.

World no5 David Ferrer had already yesterday forced Murray to perform to the peak of his powers during his 6-7 (7-5), 7-6 (8-6), 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) triumph, and it can only be hoped that his previous fitness problems do not reappear if he is to succeed in reaching the All England Club’s final and challenge for his first grand slam.

After Ferrer had taken a tight opening set, an admirably tenacious Murray recovered to just edge the three that followed with a hunger that suggested yesterday’s valiant victory will not be the end.

Ferrer had last month beaten a troubled Murray at the quarter-final stage of the French Open when the latter’s back problems undermined his performance but, despite his poor Wimbledon preparation, Murray had predicted he would have an advantage over Ferrer on grass and so it certainly proved.

“[Tsonga’s] a tough match,” said Murray. “He’s serving very well. I played him in the quarters a few years ago and it was again a very tight match. I’ll have to play very well to win that one. [Ferrer] was a very tough match, a long match, there were a lot of tight moments. I just played a little bit better at the end of the sets.

“He’s a great player, he’s ranked five in the world and sometimes he doesn’t get enough respect. I’ve known him a long time. He’s an unbelievably hard worker, and he plays well on every surface. I knew it was going to be tough.

“It was a huge match for both of us, and coming off at such a critical stage in the match as well. It was so close and that fourth set, if I’d lost that it was going to be a very tough fight.”

Tsonga himself also yesterday succeeded with a 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 win over Philipp Kohlschreiber, but though the German 27th seed caused the flamboyant Frenchman greater difficulty than had perhaps been anticipated, Tsonga regardless remains confident that tomorrow’s semi-final against Murray is a match he can win.

“Andy’s one of the players I don’t like to play because he returns really well and he can play some really good passing shots,” Tsonga said. “He’s really quick. It’s tough for me.

“But I beat him once [at the 2008 Australian Open]. And last time we played together on grass, I had a match point and it was really close. That was last year in the final in Queen’s. I will have a chance. At 100 per cent I have maybe less than him, but I will have some chances and I will try to take them.”

In the other men’s semi finals, reigning champion Novak Djokovic faces six-time Wimbledon winner and world No3 Roger Federer after both also won yesterday.

Both were truly exceptional in their respective victories, with Federer requiring just one hour and 32 minutes to beat Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, and Djokovic needing just a further 12 minutes to dismiss Florian Mayer 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

“I thought I played great out there,” Federer said. “I’m extremely happy to be back in the semi-finals here at Wimbledon. I think it helps when royalty [the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge] shows up, and other legends of the game come to see me play.

“I think it’s inspiring. I’m happy they came to support tennis and support me. It was very special.”

Djokovic said: “I am looking forward to it. He is a great champion. For me [Federer] is the ultimate challenge.”

TODAY’S HIGHLIGHTS

Women’s singles
■ A Kerber [8] v A Radwanska [3]

■ S Williams [6] v V Azarenka [2]

Men’s doubles
■ S Lipsky/R Ram v B Bryan/ M Bryan [2]