Murray sets up Tsonga semi
Andy Murray reached the Wimbledon semi-finals for the fourth year in a row with a hugely impressive victory over in-form Spaniard David Ferrer.
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The fourth seed looked in big trouble at a set and a break down but dug deep, saved a set point in an epic second-set tie-break and eventually came through 6-7 (7/5) 7-6 (8/6) 6-4 7-6 (7/4).
On Friday he will play Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as he bids to become the first British man since Bunny Austin in 1938 to reach the Wimbledon singles final.
Ferrer is having the season of his life, winning a career-high four titles and beating Murray to reach the last four at the French Open for the first time.
That was no surprise, clay is Ferrer's favourite surface, but he has carried that form onto grass, and set another career high by making it through to the last eight at Wimbledon.
The 30-year-old began brilliantly again, winning the first five points and then forcing Murray to save two break points.
The Scot, who was watched by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, had two chances to break in the next game but Ferrer held firm, and it was the underdog who drew first blood to move 3-1 ahead when Murray netted a forehand.
With two of the best returners facing one another, it was not surprising the games were close, and Ferrer kept his nose in front until he served for the set at 5-3.
Murray stepped up a gear on his return and saved one set point before breaking back courtesy of a great backhand pass.
Into the tie-break they went and, from 2-0 behind, Ferrer won the next four points to take control.
Murray retrieved the mini-break but then netted a forehand to go set point down at 6-5, and this time the Spaniard took his opportunity when the home hope again found the net.
Ferrer is renowned for his relentless hitting and great movement but he was showing how much else he has in his game, including decent touch at the net.
Murray missed a chance to break early in the second set but did well to save three break points in the seventh game.
It felt like a big moment but Ferrer redoubled his efforts in the next Murray service game and this time he did break through when the Scot hit a drop shot wide.
That left the 30-year-old serving for the set but for the first time he wobbled, a series of errors allowing Murray to level at 5-5.
A second tie-break followed and again it was Ferrer who took control, winning the first three points and then opening up a 5-2 lead.
Murray fought back to draw level though, and then saved the first set point, this time his sometimes suspect forehand holding firm.
A big serve gave the fourth seed a set point and he took it when Ferrer finally buckled after another brutal rally, the Scot joining Centre Court in celebrating.
However, there was still plenty of work to do, and Ferrer had the first chance of the third set when he forced two break points in the fourth game. Murray managed to stave off the threat.
Another tie-break looked on the cards, but a super forehand return from Murray earned him his first break point of the set in the ninth game and a chance to serve for it at 5-4.
He took it, a backhand proving too good even for Ferrer's remarkable defences, and he did not allow his opponent a sniff of a break back as he clinched the set with an ace.
The fourth set took on a similar pattern, with Murray saving break points in the eighth game - making it 10 saved from 12 faced - before Ferrer did the same.
There was a brief rain delay shortly before their third tie-break, and this time Murray seized his moment, setting up match point with a forehand down the line and then sealing one of his best grand slam victories with his 18th ace after eight minutes short of four hours.
Murray said: "It was a very tough match, a long match, there were a lot of tight moments. I just played a little bit better at the end of the sets.
"He's a great player, he's ranked five in the world and sometimes he doesn't get enough respect. I've known him a long time. He's an unbelievably hard worker, and he plays well on every surface. I knew it was going to be tough."
The match was played without the roof and there was only one brief interruption, which came at 5-5 in the fourth set and put the pair in a strange situation.
Murray said: "I went for a shower and threw some cold water on my face. I saw the physio and got stretched.
"It was a bit of a weird atmosphere because David's one bed away from me in a tiny room with all the coaches and physios and stuff. It was a little bit uncomfortable, a very intense atmosphere.
"It was a huge match for both of us, and coming off at such a critical stage in the match as well. It was so close and that fourth set, if I'd lost that it was going to be a very tough fight."
On Friday Murray will play fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who he has beaten in five of their six meetings, including in the quarter-finals here two years ago.
Murray said: "It's a tough match. He's serving very well. I played him in the quarters a few years ago and it was again a very tight match. I'll have to play very well to win that one."