ANDY Murray is through to his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final but the Scot stretched his supporters' nerves to the limit before securing a thrilling comeback victory over Spain's Fernando Verdasco.
Having won his first four matches without dropping a set, Murray had been the clear favourite to beat the world No 54, but almost paid the price for a cautious start, in which Verdasco hit his forehands with enormous power. Murray, however, never knows when he is beaten and launched a typically spirited fightback reminiscent of his back-from-the-dead victory over Richard Gasquet on the same Centre Court five years ago. In Friday's semi-finals Murray will take on Jerzy Janowicz, who beat his fellow Pole, Lukasz Kubot, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4.
Although he played cautiously in the opening stages, Murray did not appear to be in any trouble until the last two points of the first set. However, when the Scot served at 4-5 and 30-30 Verdasco created set point with a superb inside-out forehand winner, upon which Murray double-faulted.
The Scot looked furious with himself at the changeover and came out in a much more aggressive mood at the start of the second set. However, after breaking to lead 2-1, Murray dropped his own serve three games later. From 15-30 the world No 2 put a routine volley in the net and then hit a careless forehand beyond the baseline, upon which he slammed a ball away in anger.
Verdasco broke again when his backhand clipped the top of the net and cruelly toppled over on to Murray's side of the court and the Spaniard went on to serve out for the set, winning five points from 0-40 down.
Once again Murray sat on his chair between sets screaming in anguish. However, his response was excellent. Playing further up the court, the Scot played a more attacking game, denying Verdasco the time to hit his forehands, and broke serve in the second and sixth games before serving out for the set.
The momentum seemed to be with Murray, but the fourth set was much tighter as the Scot retreated back behind the baseline. He saved break points in the second and fourth games before making the only break of the set to lead 4-3. Three games later he served out for the set to take the match into a deciding shoot-out.
The deciding set was tight, but at 5-5 Verdasco's resistance finally crumbled, Murray breaking for the last time as the 29-year-old Spaniard hit a forehand long. Murray served out for victory after nearly three and a half hours when Verdasco hit a backhand long.
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