x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

David Ferrer plays up the pressure on Andy Murray

Serena Williams, who beat defending champion Petra Kvitova, says she still needs to 'step up her game' ahead of the semi-finals at the Wimbledon.

The Spanish David Ferrer has never met Andy Murray in a grass-court competition. Andy Rain / EPA
The Spanish David Ferrer has never met Andy Murray in a grass-court competition. Andy Rain / EPA

David Ferrer installed Andy Murray as favourite to win their quarter-final clash at Wimbledon but believes the weight of expectations behind the Scot could hamper the home hope.

The Spanish seventh seed reserved a place in the last eight with a straight-sets win over Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro under the roof on Centre Court.

Ferrer dominated against the ninth seed, who was briefly treated on court with a knee problem, to win 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

Tomorrow, the clay-court specialist faces Murray, who defeated the Croatian Marin Cilic in straight sets in a rain-interrupted match.

Ferrer has beaten the British No 1 in their past two matches. The most recent was at the quarter-final stage of the French Open last month.

However, the pair have never faced each other on grass and Ferrer suspects the pressure placed on the Scot could be a telling factor. No Briton has won a grand slam singles title in 76 years, and Murray remains the country's best hope to end that drought.

"Maybe he has more pressure than me because he plays at home with your people," Ferrer said. "I played him four weeks ago on a clay court and now I will play with him on a grass court.

"He's the favourite player [to win] because he's better than me, and I will try to do my best. I will have to play my best tennis to beat him.

"It's very difficult to beat Andy on all surfaces, but on a grass court it is more difficult."

Ferrer's passage to the quarter-finals, the first time he has made it to this stage at Wimbledon, has also seen him beat Dustin Brown, Kenny de Schepper and Andy Roddick to leave him the last Spaniard in the draw.

His progress to the last eight is the latest step in what has been his most successful year to date, after he reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the semi-final at Roland Garros.

Ferrer said his performance against Del Potro ranks among his best on grass, even as his form is hitting an upward curve.

He said: "I am trying every year to improve my game.

"I had very great years in 2010, 2011, and this year also.

"Today was one of my best matches on this court, sure, but I'm not sure if is my best or not.

"My return is my best weapon on a grass court, because on grass I don't have real power with my serve, but I am playing very well with my return.

"Of course, in this season, grass court, today it was the best match."

Petra Kvitova’s hopes of defending her Wimbledon title were wrecked by the blistering pace of Serena Williams’s shots as the American ousted the defending champion 6-3, 7-5 in their quarter-final tomorrow.

The quality of tennis on view could have graced a final as the players attacked each other with big serves and heavy groundstrokes. It was the greater power and fight of the four-time champion that won out.

“I had to step it up today because I was playing the defending champion,” Williams said. “It was tough. But I had absolutely nothing to lose. It was really fun. I’m having the time of my life out here, and I’m enjoying every moment.

“It’s exciting. Everyone thinks about lifting the trophy. It’s something I’ve thought about, but my main goal is to keep progressing. If I want to win the title, I have to step it up. There are a lot of people vying for it. I’m happy just to be in the tournament.”

The two women came on court with a look of concentration etched into their faces and the tennis they played in the opening set was arguably the highest quality witnessed in the women’s competition this year.

It had looked even in the early games before Williams turned up the heat with a display of power hitting that left Kvitova struggling for a response.

Any return that dropped midcourt was sent crashing past the Czech with regularity.

Williams broke in the sixth game of the first set when Kvitova sent a cross-court forehand wide and then closed it out when the Czech sent a backhand return long. The second set was tighter, with Kvitova staying close and even creating a set point in the 10th game.

After saving that, Williams showcased her fighter qualities, firing a winner straight at her opponent when she had the whole court to aim at.

She will play Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka or Austria’s Tamira Paszek in the semi-final.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE