Murray treats fans to rollercoaster ride

Updated: 2013-07-05 07:23

By Associated Press in London (China Daily)

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 Murray treats fans to rollercoaster ride

Andy Murray reacts after a point against Fernando Verdasco during their quarterfinal match at Wimbledon on Wednesday. Murray battled back from two sets down to book a place in the semifinals with a 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 win. Glyn Kirk / Agence France-Presse

British star comes back from two sets down to reach semis

When Andy Murray dropped the first two sets of his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, the 15,000 Centre Court spectators were reduced to a silence so complete that birds could be heard chirping.

By the time his five-set comeback was nearly complete, more than two hours later, the fans were greeting each point that went Murray's way with celebrations of the sort normally reserved for a championship.

It's been 77 years since a British man won the country's Grand Slam tennis tournament, and thanks to the second-seeded Murray's 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco, the locals still can hold out hope the wait will end Sunday.

In the stands and from afar, some of the biggest names in Britain were cheering on Murray.

There was Alex Ferguson, the recently retired manager of Manchester United, sitting among the crowd at the All-England Club and smiling broadly. And there was David Cameron, the country's prime minister, tweeting his well-wishes before the match and then later a photo of him watching it on television.

Murray didn't let either of them down, or any of his other millions of fans, but he did make it hard to take at times.

The Briton advanced to the Wimbledon semifinals for the fifth straight year.

"I think when you play more and more matches and gain more experience you understand how to turn matches around and how to change the momentum of games," Murray said, relating his comeback win to one of Ferguson's famous late turnarounds with Man United.

"Maybe when I was younger I could have lost that match. But I think I've learnt how to come back from tough situations more as I got older."

He's only 26, but he truly has matured as a player over the past 12 months. After shedding tears following the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray returned to the same spot four weeks later and beat Federer to win a gold medal at the London Olympics. Then, at the US Open in September, he defeated Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam title.

The early eliminations of Federer and Rafael Nadal from the tournament opened up the draw for Murray, who has as good a chance as anyone to claim a trophy no British man has earned since Fred Perry in 1936.

That certainly seemed in peril when Verdasco grabbed a two-set lead.

"The second set," Murray said, "was a bad set of tennis for me."

But he broke to go ahead 2-0 in the third, which he wrapped up rather easily.

"Gave him a lot of confidence," Verdasco said.

Murray treats fans to rollercoaster ride

Ferguson is becoming something of a regular at Murray's big matches. Along with Sean Connery, Ferguson even crashed a post-match media conference last year after Murray won the US Open.

Ferguson didn't make it that far this time, but there could be two matches still to go at Wimbledon.

"Just got off the court a few minutes ago, so I haven't seen anyone yet," Murray said flatly about Ferguson, perhaps trying to downplay the feeling of having such an accomplished fan in his corner.

One of many accomplished fans, it turns out.

Cameron may have skipped the trip out to the All-England Club, but before the match he wrote on Twitter that he wished Murray luck. He did the same for Laura Robson ahead of her fourth-round loss on Monday, leading some to think his gesture could be a bad omen, a so-called "Cameron curse".

It looked like there could have been something to that over the first two sets against Verdasco, but it didn't seem to matter in the end.

Or, according to Murray, it didn't matter at all.

"What he tweets has absolutely zero bearing on the outcome of my match today. Zero at all," Murray said. "It's nice to get messages from the prime minister, but whether I win or not, his tweet has no bearing on that at all."

In the semifinals, Murray will face Jerzy Janowicz, a 22-year-old from Poland who beat Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.

see "Jerzy" page 22

(China Daily 07/05/2013 page24)