Wednesday 17 January 2018

Murray's title hopes boosted by sprinkling of Fergie 'gold-dust'

Paul Newman

Andy Murray will go into his Wimbledon semi-final against Jerzy Janowicz this afternoon with the benefit of a sprinkling of Alex Ferguson's "gold dust".

The two men met after Murray's fightback victory over Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday and the world No 2 hopes to have benefited from the former Manchester United manager's advice on coping with pressure situations.

"I spoke to him for 15 or 20 minutes," Murray said. "We spoke about a lot of things – his retirement, we spoke a lot about football and then at the end I spoke to him, not so much about the match, but about everything that goes with it.

"He was just giving me advice on how to handle certain pressures and expectations, those sort of things. Getting that sort of advice from someone like him is gold dust. I'm not going to be sharing too much of it."

Murray, who had Ferguson in his player's box when he won last year's US Open, will be playing in the Wimbledon semi-finals for a fifth successive year.

He said preparing for such big occasions had become easier with time, but it did not mean the matches were getting any easier.

"Sometimes I've played the semi-finals of Slams and won comfortably, sometimes I've lost comfortably, sometimes it's been tough five-set matches.

"In terms of preparing for them, having the experience of being there a lot of times will help."

The 6ft 8in Janowicz has a huge serve, but Murray (right) considers his returns the best part of his game.

"Normally when you are playing against the big players they don't always like playing against guys who are returning their biggest weapon," he said.

"Often when you play against guys with big serves, the sets come down to a just a few points and who plays the big points better. I need to be able to take my chances."

Novak Djokovic meets Juan Martin del Potro in the other semi-final and Murray considers the Serb to be the title favourite.

"Novak has had some tough matches against some very good grass-court players in the last couple of rounds in (Tommy) Haas and (Tomas) Berdych and he's won those matches fairly comfortably without too many problems," said Murray.

Djokovic and Del Potro are the only men not to have dropped a set in this year's championship. History suggests that the Argentinian will blink first. The world No 1 has won eight out of the pair's 11 matches, prevailing in all three of their previous Grand Slam meetings.

Del Potro may also still be hampered by a knee injury – the result of a dramatic fall during his quarter-final against David Ferrer.

DISCOMFORT

The Argentinian, who took what he described as "magic pills" to get him through the match, showed little sign of discomfort yesterday as he practised.

"I'm okay I think," he said. "I'm confident for myself with my serve and my game, but he is No 1 in the world. He's the big favourite for the tournament but I will try to beat him."

Djokovic meanwhile seems like a man at ease with himself this week. On Wednesday night, while Murray was still battling it out against Fernando Verdasco, Djokovic was at his Wimbledon base, posing for a picture in his golf gear before heading out for a few holes.

He has every reason to feel relaxed. He has been here before – today's match will be his fifth Wimbledon semi-final.

And, unlike his fellow semi-finalists, he has actually won this tournament before. (© Independent News Service)

Wimbledon, Live,

BBC2, 12.30/TG4, 1.0

Irish Independent

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