FRIENDSHIP will be put firmly to one side today when Britain’s Andy Murray aims to down Spain’s Fernando Verdasco and reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Murray, 26, was based in Barcelona between the ages of 15 and 17, and it was there where he first met Verdasco, who has failed to beat the Scot in eight of their nine meetings.
Spain’s three-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist Feliciano Lopez is also one of Murray’s closest friends, however British-Spanish relations are far from Verdasco’s priority as he prepares to step out on Centre Court for the first SW19 quarter-final of his career.
“I have a good relationship with Andy, I know him for many years,” said Verdasco, a former world No7.
“He practised in Spain when he was younger. We always had a good relationship out of the court and on the court also.
“It’s going to be a special match. I’m going to go out there and try to do my game like I try to do every match.
“It’s going to be difficult to beat him with the crowd and everything. You need to have faith and try your best to win.”
Murray is yet to drop a set at this year’s championships and is on a run of 15 consecutive victories on grass, having won at Queen’s last month and last summer’s Olympics.
Verdasco will be the first left-handed player he has faced this year, but the world No2 believes years of playing against brother Jamie, a Wimbledon mixed doubles champion in 2007, should stand him in good stead.
“I haven’t played a left-hander the whole year, which I think is pretty amazing six months into the year,” said Murray. “I don’t mind the way the ball comes off the racquet from the back of the court; I grew up playing with my brother, so that almost feels more natural than a righty. It’s just the serve and the way you move on the return that’s different.”
Today’s other quarter-finals pit world No1 Novak Djokovic against seventh seed Tomas Berdych, while an all-Polish clash sees 6ft 8in Jerzy Janowicz play world No130 Lukasz Kubot, the lowest ranked player left in the draw. Fourth seed David Ferrer and No8 seed Juan Martin del Potro are both targeting a semi-final spot for the first time.
ORDER OF PLAY: WEDNESDAY
Centre Court (1pm start)
David Ferrer v Juan Martin del Potro
Fernando Verdasco v Andy Murray (GBR)
No1 Court (1pm start)
Novak Djokovic v Tomas Berdych
Lukasz Kubot v Jerzy Janowicz
WOMEN’S SEMI-FINALS: WHO’S WHO?
■ Age: 28
■ World ranking: 15
■ Wimbledon best: Runner-up 2007
■ Did you know? Is appearing in her 44th consecutive grand slam tournament
■ Age: 27
■ World ranking: 20
■ Wimbledon best: Third round 2009
■ Did you know? Played mixed doubles with Andy Murray at Wimbledon in 2006
■ Age: 23
■ World ranking: 24
■ Wimbledon best: Semi-final 2011
■ Did you know? is first German to reach grand slam semi since Steffi Graff in 1999
■ Age: 24
■ World ranking: 4
■ Wimbledon best: Runner-up 2012
■ Did you know: Was Poland’s flag-bearer at London 2012 opening ceremony