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Friday, July 8, 2016

It's Murray vs Milos: Wimbledon favourite brushes Berdych aside in straight sets to meet big-serving Canadian in Sunday's final


Glasgow-born Murray stretches to reach a sliced backhand return on Friday evening on Centre Court

Andy Murray roars into Wimbledon final where he will face Milos Raonic after beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets

  • Andy Murray was a 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 winner over No 10 seed Tomas Berdych  
  • The Brit made the Wimbledon final after a fine display on Friday evening
  • No 2 seed Murray will now face No 6 Milos Raonic on Sunday at SW19 
  • Raonic beat Roger Federer 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 on Centre Court



Finally, in his 29th year and after ten Grand Slam finals, Andy Murray is through to one of them when his opponent will not be one of the dreaded duo.
Instead of facing the challenge of Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer, the 29-year-old Scot will be up against Canadian Milos Raonic, for whom it will be a first opportunity to win a Major.
Murray got himself into that position with a hugely businesslike 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 victory over an older adversary, Tomas Berdych, the powerful Czech hitter whose dreams of the biggest titles have so often been shattered by the best from this massively competitive era.

Andy Murray pumps his fist and roars with delight during his comprehensive victory over Tomas Berdych
Andy Murray pumps his fist and roars with delight during his comprehensive victory over Tomas Berdych
Glasgow-born Murray stretches to reach a sliced backhand return on Friday evening on Centre Court
Glasgow-born Murray stretches to reach a sliced backhand return on Friday evening on Centre Court
Murray, who is now 29 years old, goes in for the kill with an attacking two-handed backhand 
Murray, who is now 29 years old, goes in for the kill with an attacking two-handed backhand 
Murray hits a forehand off the back foot from well behind the baseline on a pleasant evening in SW19
Murray hits a forehand off the back foot from well behind the baseline on a pleasant evening in SW19
Murray goes on the attack against his 30-year-old opponent from the Czech Republic, Berdych
Murray goes on the attack against his 30-year-old opponent from the Czech Republic, Berdych
It was not, in truth, a match that will live long in the memory but Murray will not care about that. Unlike the quarter final against Jo Wilfried Tsonga, he conserved his energy for the last push, and he will need it to tackle the monster power of the Canadian's serve and his much improved all-round game.
By moving forward to take on his opponent's second serve and keeping his unforced error count to a measly nine, Murray clinically did what was required of him.
Now, dare one say it, he will be the favourite to take a second Wimbledon title and third Grand Slam. However, as Roger Federer warned, people would be stupid to underestimate the Canadian, who led Murray by a set and a break in the Aegon Championships final at Queen's Club nearly three weeks ago.
Murray will now move ahead of Fred Perry, on eleven Major final appearances.
'I'm very happy,' said Murray afterwards. 'The middle part of the second set was key, he had a few chances but I managed to break.
'The older you get you never know how many more chances you are going to have so you want to make the most of your opportunities. The experience helps you deal with the nerves. I know what I have to do to get to the latter stages of these events.
'It was a very tough match at Queen's, I was down a set but managed to turn it around. He is playing the best grass court tennis of his life so it won't be easy.'
One casualty of Murray's run to the final is likely to be his participation in next week's Davis Cup quarter final against Serbia in Belgrade, which would naturally be a catastrophic blow to British hopes.
My understanding is that he has privately indicated to Captain Leon Smith that he will be too tired to play on what is expected to be the opposite to grass – a slow clay court – and in temperatures expected to be well into the thirties.
Of course it is still possible he could change his mind in the next 48 hours and would be entitled to do so, but is a massive downer to the competition with Novak Djokovic having already ruled himself. Both of the world's top players want to focus on the Olympics as their next target and the team competition is likely to prove the victim of the intense scheduling this summer.
Kim Sears, wife of Andy Murray, celebrates at match point with Murray winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-3
Kim Sears, wife of Andy Murray, celebrates at match point with Murray winning 6-3, 6-3, 6-3

Berdych - who reached the final in 2010 - smashes home from close in on Day Eleven of Wimbledon
Berdych - who reached the final in 2010 - smashes home from close in on Day Eleven of Wimbledon

Berdych is also a Davis Cup winner, and that was going to be handy experience for a match when the crowd was always likely to be against him as he attempted to overturn a 6-8 record against Murray, having lost their four previous encounters.
The most famous of those was the highly charged Australian Open encounter eighteen months ago, when the tension spilled over into the support boxes, mainly because of Dani Vallverdu having switched from working for Murray to Berdych.
There was never likely to be a repeat of that in the venerated setting of the Centre Court, which was less than half full when they walked out in quick succession after the Federer-Raonic epic.
For Murray the task of playing in what is now his traditional, primtetime second semi-final spot was perhaps made more difficult by knowing that he would not be facing one of his great rivals he could get through a match he was supposed to win.
The start was promising, breaking through a Berdych double fault, but he handed that straight back when he lost the groundstroke battle in the next game, with the Czech showcasing his easy power.
Fortunately for Murray the ninth seed was in more generous mood at 4-3, suddenly throwing in a succession of forehand errors when not especially under pressure. The key to playing him is to exploit his movement across the rutted areas of the baseline, but even that was not necessary.
The 29 year-old Scot had opted for consistency rather than hitting out and it worked well enough to give him the set lead from which he so rarely loses unless the opponent is Djokovic.
A concentrated Murray keeps his eye on the ball as he serves early on in the semi-final match
A concentrated Murray keeps his eye on the ball as he serves early on in the semi-final match
Berdych gets down low to reach a backhand volley while playing against No 2 seed, Scotsman Murray
Berdych gets down low to reach a backhand volley while playing against No 2 seed, Scotsman Murray

From 40-0 up at 2-2 in the second Berdych again tossed in some errors to provide Murray with two break points but on this occasion he served his way out of trouble.
The next game was similar in the other direction, with Murray facing two break points, but finding the first serves when he needed them.
Berdych, an avowed baseliner, was darting into the net with uncharacteristic regularity but then the Scot played a textbook game against him, running him wide and drawing the forehand errors in abundance to break for 4-3.
By the time he took the second set with another break Murray had made only five unforced errors, while he was enjoying steady success against the second serve, especially on the break points.
When Murray broke for 3-1 in the third the game was up for Berdych, who had not faced someone of this calibre in his run to the semi-finals. It was not a match of spectacular winners but the lob Murray hit on the run to go 4-1 up was utterly ridiculous.
The match against Raonic will be different in that the Canadian, unlike Berdych, uses his physique to plunder copious free points on his serve. But Murray, who has lost only one his last 23 matches, will see it as a massive chance to repeat his triumph of 2013.
Murray chases down a dropshot from his No 10 seed opponent, Berdych, during the crunch semi-final
Murray chases down a dropshot from his No 10 seed opponent, Berdych, during the crunch semi-final
Murray looks up to his box with a wry smile after netting an easy chance against Berdych
Murray looks up to his box with a wry smile after netting an easy chance against Berdych


 


 

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