Thursday 22 February 2018

Tennis: Tsonga's error opens the door for Murray to go through

Martyn Herman

ANDY MURRAY punished Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for one crucial error of judgment to roar into the Wimbledon semi-finals for the second consecutive year.

Murray eventually raced to a 6-7 7-6 6-2 6-2 win and a last-four clash with world No 1 Rafael Nadal, but the match was balanced on a knife edge for two absorbing sets.

Tsonga, the 10th seed, launched a withering onslaught in the late-afternoon sunshine and looked to have the home favourite on the rack until a rush of blood at 5-5 in the second tiebreak of the match changed everything.

The Frenchman thundered down a first serve which Murray chipped back at full strength and, as the ball hovered in the air waiting to be punched away, Tsonga hesitated, withdrew his racquet, and turned expecting it to float out. To his horror, it dropped on to the dusty baseline giving Murray a 6-5 lead and the Scot duly levelled the match on the following point before bellowing a huge roar of relief.

Tsonga hung on grimly at the start of the third set but the fireworks he had produced to keep Murray at full stretch fizzled out.


Next up for the Scot is Rafael Nadal, who overcame a slow start to tame Swede Robin Soderling 3-6 6-3 7-6 6-1. Nadal, who also saw off Soderling's challenge in the French Open final earlier this month, squandered his first match point before sealing victory with a trademark rasping forehand down the line.

The crowd on Court No 1 might have been rooting for the unseeded son of a Taipei chicken farmer, but Novak Djokovic had no time for such nonsense.

The Serbian third seed took less than two hours to end the adventure of Yen-Hsun Lu, the unlikely conqueror of Andy Roddick in the previous round, and in a style that suggests he could well be the man to beat in this tournament of surprises.

"Right now I think I'm raising my confidence level and performance level match after match," he said. "This is something that is very encouraging in this stage of the tournament."

Djokovic, who was so dominant in his 6-3 6-2 6-2 victory that he conceded just 12 points on his serve in the entire match, believes he is now approaching the kind of form that carried him to the Australian Open crown two years ago -- his first and only Grand Slam title to date.

And, with Federer now out of the equation, he faces a semi-final opponent in Tomas Berdych, who has failed to take a set off him in their two meetings. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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