Andy, you’re a star WIMBLEDON, England – T
|Andy Murray reacts after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France in a semifinal match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships on Friday in Wimbledon, England. Murray is the first Briton since 1938 to make the final. (AP)|
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WIMBLEDON, England – The buzz around Centre Court gradually increased while Andy Murray inched closer to ending one of the longest waits in British sports.
A tennis crowd used to disappointments finally saw reason to believe, with the classic shouts of “Come on Andy” at Wimbledon over the last 7 years coupled with the added encouragement: “You can do it.”
And, in his fourth attempt in as many years, Murray finally did.
Murray became the first British man since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final by beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 on Friday, living up to the hype and expectations at home that seemed to get bigger and bigger with every year.
“I think, subconsciously, at the end of the match it was obviously very emotional,” Murray said. “Haven’t really been like that before in a semifinal match, so obviously it meant something to me and it was very, very important. There is obviously a lot of pressure and stress around this time of year.”
And that pressure isn’t gone just yet. And it won’t be until Murray can become the first British man to actually win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
That would mean beating Roger Federer in Sunday’s final, a task that might prove harder than Friday’s victory. Federer is a six-time Wimbledon champion. He beat defending champion and top-ranked Novak Djokovic to reach a record-tying eighth Wimbledon final.
Murray has lost to Federer twice in Grand Slam finals, at the 2008 U.S. Open and the 2010 Australian Open – never winning a set.
“It’s a great challenge, one where I’m probably not expected to win the match, but one that, if I play well, I’m capable of winning,” said Murray, of Scotland.
Murray’s victory over Tsonga ended a streak of 11 straight losses for British players since then in the semifinals at the All England Club.
For good measure, both Murray and the Centre Court crowd had to wait a few extra moments for the 74-year drought to end.
On match point, Murray sent a forehand return past Tsonga that landed on the sideline, setting off a raucous cheer from the crowd as Murray bent down, clutching his racket and letting out a shout. But the ball had been called out, forcing Murray to challenge.
With both players waiting at the net, the Hawk-Eye reply system finally confirmed Murray’s victory, setting off another loud cheer and a standing ovation from the crowd. Murray gave Tsonga a hug, then dropped his racket and walked to the center of the court, both fingers pointed skyward in his signature gesture.
Even Prime Minister David Cameron weighed in, calling Murray’s victory “great news.”
Tsonga did, too. The Frenchman, who is also immensely popular with the Wimbledon crowd, said Murray deserved the place in the final, and that he hoped he’d be able to play relaxed against Federer.
“For me, there is no more pressure [on Murray],” Tsonga said. “He’s in the final. He did the job, I think. Now everything is a bonus, is positive for him.
“Now I’m sure he will play only for him and not for all these people.”
Murray said he will need the crowd support to have a chance to beat Federer – who is usually the fan favorite in every match he plays at Wimbledon.
“There’s obviously going to be nerves and pressure there for sure,” Murray said, “but I need to try and stay focused.”
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