Sunday 25 February 2018

Murray rises above roof row to seal final berth

Andy Murray celebrates during his victory over Jerzy Janowicz on Centre Court last night
Andy Murray celebrates during his victory over Jerzy Janowicz on Centre Court last night

Andy Murray survived the monster serve of Jerzy Janowicz and a controversial stoppage while the roof was closed – just at the moment when he was running away with the match – to reach the final of Wimbledon for the second successive year.

The TV microphones picked up every word of Murray's fraught conversation with Wimbledon referee Andrew Jarrett at the end of the third set. Murray had just put together a match-turning streak of five straight games, and was aghast to hear that play would have to be stopped for 30 minutes while the match moved indoors.

Yet Murray's anxious fans need not have worried. He collected himself superbly during the stoppage and played a blinder in the final set, breaking Janowicz in the third and ninth games to progress to the final by a 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-3 margin.

The roof debate was about more than just momentum. Indoor tennis has a different dynamic, particularly indoor tennis on grass, as Murray discovered last year when the roof closed after the second set of the final against Roger Federer.

It plays to the advantage of the more aggressive striker of the ball, because there is no wind to deflect the ball onto the frame of the racket at the last second. And it also helps big servers.

No wonder Murray was upset. "You can't close it now!" he exclaimed. "It's bright! He's been complaining about if for the last 40 minutes. It's not even dark. This is an outdoor tournament. I don't understand these rules. There's no rules!"

Janowicz's tactics seemed to work, as they did for much of a match in which he tormented Murray with his silky drop shot. Jarrett sided with him – to the dismay of almost every home supporter – and the giant Pole promptly stopped the rot by holding serve in the first game after the restart.

When the players came out again after the stoppage, Janowicz was roundly booed by the crowd, and waved sarcastically at them.

One of the wild men of tennis, Janowicz is not a player who worries about his popularity rating in the locker room. He and Murray were niggling away at each other throughout the match.

Murray would hold up a hand to slow him down when the Pole was serving, and then Janowicz would return the favour when it was his turn to receive.

PERSONAL

It all got a bit personal for a while, though the two players embraced warmly enough at the conclusion and congratulated each other.

If anything, the extra edge helped Murray. In the first couple of sets he had been tentative, rather as he had been in Wednesday's quarter-final against Fernando Verdasco. On both occasions, the pressure had been all on him, and his opponent had been able to swing freely.

But once Janowicz had roused his inner beast, he turned into a different player, and succeeded in mobilising the crowd more effectively in his favour.

Sensing the hostility against their man, Janowicz's fans in his player's box were doing their own rhythmic clap to keep him going. At one point, the rest of Centre Court responded by shushing. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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