With Andy Murray only two matches away from possible becoming the first British Wimbledon champion since Fred Perry in the 1930′s, the fact that there’s no Rafael Nadal in his half of the draw anymore should be regarded as good news. Murray does need to get through Tsonga, but many feel this might be his best chance to win his first Grand Slam tournament.
Murray doesn’t necessarily agree, comparing the situation he was in 2009, facing Andy Roddick in the semifinal and messing that one up as another great opportunity. This is his fourth straight semifinal at Wimbledon, losing the last two against Rafael Nadal. Against Tsonga, who has beaten Murray only once in six matches, he’s gets a rare chance of entering a semifinal as a favorite.
The two have met on Grass twice before. Once it was at Wimbledon (2010), with Murray winning in four sets and one year ago, at Queen’s, in the final, as Murray overcame losing the first set to come away with the win and the title. Even with Tsonga playing the best tennis of his career over the last 12 months, this is Murray’s game to lose, and not only because of the venue and the local expectations.
Murray doesn’t want to draw inspiration from other British players who stumbled before the finish line. He’s often compared to Tim Henman, who was the last great British hope (although Murray is Scottish and Henman English). Henman never made it past the semifinal at Wimbledon as well, or of any other Grand Slam tournament for that matter. Murray looks to more recent events, in a different sport, and finds inspiration there.
LeBron James, who many people said would never win an NBA title after last year’s collapse, is the source for Murray’s fuel. He’s also often told and talked about as someone who’s just a bit inferior to the big three of this era, which has actually turned into the big two over the last two years. Murray might be less of a player than Nadal, Djokovic and yes, even the aging Roger Federer, but that doesn’t mean he can’t come up with a title.
There were a lot of people who said LeBron would never win. That he never played his best in finals and that in the fourth quarter of games, he never stepped up. Then you see how he played the whole of the Finals, the whole of the play-offs. Sometimes it takes some guys a bit longer than others. I’ve been close a lot of times and not quite made it. I have to keep putting myself in the position and hopefully it will click.
I don’t know if it is my best chance. I think when I played Andy Roddick in the semis it was also a good chance. I’m in a good position, that’s for sure. But I’ve been in this position a few times now and want to push on.
With Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on the other side of the draw, Murray can only hope they’ll take as much as possible out of each other before the final. After beating David Ferrer, someone who’s never made it easy for Murray in their matches (5-5), he can only hope that Nadal falling soon was a sign that this is his chance, this is his time.