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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Murray swats away 'mosquito'

Photo Titled Juan Carlos Ferrero
Juan Carlos Ferrero fighting to stay in his match against Andy Murray on Centre Court.

The player known as “the mosquito” was on the receiving end of a painful sting from Andy Murray as the number three seed beat Juan Carlos Ferrero 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 on Centre Court. The authoritative victory over the former world number one puts Murray through to his first Wimbledon semi-final.

In the first set it seemed that Ferrero was intent on avoiding a repeat of their one career encounter to date, last month at Queen’s where Murray wrapped up a simple straight sets victory. True, the Spaniard had a couple of jitters at the outset, and he pushed a half-volley long to give Murray an early chance to break. But the chance went by.

Oddly at this stage many rows of the Centre Court were empty, with some in the crowd permitting themselves a short break from the sizzling July heat after witnessing Roger Federer’s earlier victory over Ivo Karlovic.

Murray was winning his serve with ease, and Ferrero was having to work much harder to hold on to his. But nonetheless the Spaniard was playing a canny game. As late as 5-5 it seemed possible he could snatch the set. With Murray seeming a little heavy after his marathon Monday night victory over Stanislas Wawrinka, the loss of the set could have been an important blow.

But it didn’t happen. At 5-6 Ferrero left the court open for a Murray passing shot. One point later the Scot got a lucky netcord, and he then he brought up set point at 40-30 with a powerful crosscourt forehand that left his opponent stranded. That one went by, but a backhand return brought up another opportunity, whereupon Ferrero delivered his first double fault of the day.

Early in the second, it all seemed to be going wrong for Murray. In the first game Ferrero produced a forehand crosscourt winner to bring up two break points. The Scot pulled out his fastest serve – 132mph – of the tournament so far to rescue the first. But when he put a backhand in the net on the second, the game and the break belonged to the Spaniard.

The turning point came out of the blue with Murray at 1-3 deuce, when he won an astonishing 20 of the next 21 points. He was helped by the 2003 Roland Garros champion delivering his second double fault of the match at exactly the wrong moment to put the set back on serve, but a newly energised Murray was making no mistakes and a deflated Ferrero could not stay with him.

Ferrero has enjoyed a resurgence this year. He was given a wild card here on the basis of his ranking of 115 in May. But a good Roland Garros took him to number 70, and before this match he was assured of a spot in the top 40 when the new rankings come out next Monday. For Murray the stakes are higher. He can take the number two spot from Roger Federer by winning the title here – and if he does, he will be a mere five points short of Rafael Nadal’s tally at number one.

Ferrero, who has never made the last four at Wimbledon, needed to state his case early in the third set if he was to stay in the match. Instead, break point chances were coming Murray’s way. Ferrero delivered a delightful dropshot to save the third of these at 2-2. But a fourth was too much and Murray converted it with a forehand that he made look straightforward.

He was playing so briskly between points that it was clear he wanted to spend as little time as possible baking beneath the sapping heat of the Centre Court. Moreover, he was overwhelming Ferrero on the Spaniard’s serve, and broke him to love for 5-2.

In the end he required just one hour and 41 minutes to complete a comprehensive victory.

Centre Court - Gentlemen's Singles - Quarterfinals
Andy Murray GBR (3)Winner766
Juan Carlos Ferrero ESP 532

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