The second Wimbledon semi-final pitted fifth-seed, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against fourth-seed, Brit Andy Murray in a match of two Wimbledon final virgins. Whoever won, Federer, who had earned a chance for his seventh Wimbledon championship earlier that day, would face a newcomer to the biggest tennis game on grass.
Murray earned the first break to take a 3-0 lead in the first set. Tsonga nearly broke back but Murray was able to serve his way out of trouble. He went on to serve out the first set 6-3.
In the second set, Tsonga started to look in trouble. Murray began to challenge him on every serve and he seemed unable to really offer much of a response to Murray’s service games in return. The problems continued to build until Murray finally made the break through and took a game off Tsonga for a 3-2 game lead. He then proceeded to close out his next service game with ease, winning to love and building his lead in the second set to 4 games to 2.
Perhaps the back problems Tsonga experienced in his quarter-final match were starting to plague him again. But more than that, he looked like his head wasn’t quite in the game. However, he rallied on his next serve and played a couple of excellent volleys to take the game.
The rally wasn’t enough. Murray was able to take a commanding match lead by winning the second set 6-4.
However, in the third set, with his back against the wall, Tsonga responded. A double-fault contributed to Tsonga having three break chances. He did not let the opportunity slip and duly took the game on his way to a 3-0 game lead in the third set.
The match suddenly looked very different. Now Murray was in serious trouble. He was taken to deuce by Tsonga who had a chance to break him for a second time. But Murray was able to hold and win his first game of the third set.
The match see-sawed and Murray’s hold seemed to give him the momentum. He had a break chance but was unable to convert it, tying the fifth game of the set at deuce.
An unforced error, Tsonga’s twenty-sixth of the match, then gave Murray the advantage but he was yet again unable to convert it.
A third breakpoint chance also went asking before Tsonga was able to ace his way to a 4-1 lead.
Despite seemingly receiving an errant ball to a sensitive region when the set was 5-3 in his favour, Tsonga was able to hold on to his advantage and took the third set 6-3.
Both players opened the fourth set cautiously. They both seemed to know how close they were to a historic first Wimbledon final. But with Tsonga serving to tie the fourth 2-2, it was Murray who struck. A combination of a beautiful backhand and another unforced error from Tsonga gave him the break and a 3-1 lead.
However, Tsonga was able to gather a break point attempt of his own in the very next game after a bad call by Murray to leave a shot he thought was going wide. Murray made recompense for his mistake with an excellent ace but was quickly under pressure again as Tsonga snuck in a volley to give him advantage. Tsonga was able to make the second one count and broke Murray back.
At 4-3 Murray had a chance to restore his one game advantage. At 15-40, Murray slipped giving an easy breakpoint back to Tsonga. An attempt to lob Tsonga by Murray back-fired on 30-40, setting up deuce. One bad return and a smash later, and Tsonga had quelled the danger.
On Murray’s serve, the situation was set up in reverse, with Tsonga building up two break points. But both were wasted by unforced errors. Two more unforced errors and Murray had saved his serve as well.
However, with the fourth set at 6-5 in Murray’s favour yet another unforced error from Tsonga gave Murray two match points. He only needed one to do it. Or did he? The call that the cross-court shot was in was overturned as both players walked to the net. Murray challenged and the overrule was in turn overruled.
Murray became the first Brit to make a Wimbledon final since Fred Perry in 1936.
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