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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Semi-Final Preview: Murray v Roddick

Photo Titled Murray serve
ndy Murray fires a serve at Juan Carlos Ferrero during their quarter final on Centre Court.
Andy Roddick is just one game of tennis away from causing the greatest diplomatic incident between Britain and the United States since the Boston Tea Party.

If Roddick is to make his first Wimbledon final since 2005 he will have to beat the world number three Andy Murray, who is one match away from becoming the first British male in the Wimbledon final since 1938.

The longing for Murray to end this country’s longest sporting drought is tangible. As Roddick said after his quarter-final victory over Lleyton Hewitt, you will be able to count the American’s supporters on Centre Court on one hand. Not that Roddick will be bothered. He had a taste of being the pantomime villain when he beat Hewitt, who was urged on by his small band of fanatical supporters.

"I think the crowd's going be electric. I think it's going to be a great atmosphere, and one that I can certainly appreciate, even if it's not for me," Roddick says. "I'm just going to pretend when they say, ‘C'mon, Andy’, that they mean me."

If Roddick is unconcerned by the crowd, he may be worried by the formbook. Murray leads their head-to-head encounters 6-2, including victory in their only match on grass, at Wimbledon 2006.

Murray has won more matches this year (45-6) than any other player except for Novak Djokovic, who lost on Wednesday, and, having won the Queen’s tournament last month, the 22-year-old is on a 10-match winning streak on grass. When told that Hewitt regarded Roddick as the underdog, the 6th seed replied: “That’s fine.”

Murray is keeping his feet on the ground. He has consistently refused to speculate about his chances in this tournament beyond his next match, despite goading from the press seeking the headline: Murray says he can win Wimbledon.

"I understand that I can lose the next match if I don't play my best," Murray says. "That's been one of the things that I've learned, and it's made a huge difference to me over the last year or so. I feel confident because I've won a lot of matches on the grass. But every day when I get up to play the matches, I know that I'm going to have to perform very well, and that gets the nerves and the adrenaline going and makes me play better.

"Obviously Roddick, along with Karlovic, is one of the best servers in the game. So against Roddick I'll obviously need to return very well. Roddick's made two finals. He’s been number one in the world and a Grand Slam champion."

Roddick has served 139 aces this tournament, with a top-speed of 141 mph and a first serve percentage of 72%. Nearly half (274/551) of Roddick’s serves this tournament have not been returned and he has won 81% of points on his first serve.

"With my serve, I can give myself a chance in any match. I've been in this situation many times," Roddick says. "I'm not gonna predict anything. I'm going to have to play well, and hopefully he would probably say the same. You know, so we'll get to it."

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