x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Strategy key to Murray's victory bid at Wimbledon

The Briton looks to avenge loss to Nadal while Djokovic is wary of the threat of Tsonga as he looks to reach the final for the first time.

Andy Murray is hoping that it is third time lucky today as he attempts to reach his first Wimbledon final.

The 24-year-old has been imperious in his last two rounds against Richard Gasquet and Feliciano Lopez to set himself up for today's clash with Rafael Nadal, the world No 1 and defending champion at Wimbledon.

Murray lost at the same stage to Nadal 12 months ago in straight sets, and was upset in four sets in 2009 by Andy Roddick, but he is confident that he can end his quest to win a major title at this tournament and also end Britain's 75-year wait for a winner in a men's grand slam tournament.

"I believe I can win against him. I had chances last year," Murray told reporters yesterday.

While he has lost 11 of his previous 15 meetings with Nadal, most recently in the semi-finals of the French Open at Roland Garros, Murray believes he is ready to inflict a first Wimbledon defeat on the Spaniard since 2007 - a winning run interrupted only by Nadal's injured knees in 2009.

"I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience. I just have to go out there and play well and serve well and believe and I'll have a chance."

If it was not a grand slam, Nadal would probably be home fishing in Mallorca and resting the foot he injured in his energy-sapping last-16 match against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.

While scans have shown there is nothing seriously wrong with the foot, Nadal is clearly worried enough to require it to be "put to sleep" during his matches.

The 25-year-old was not at his best against Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals as he won in four sets, but with just two matches left before a well-earned month off, the French Open champion will be fighting his corner with his usual ferocity.

"For me it is the last tournament in one month, so I have to try my best," Nadal said. "It's always, for me, a dream to play here in Wimbledon.

"Last year I beat Andy here in the semi-finals, but it was a very close match, even if it was in straight sets. For sure I always enjoy playing these kind of matches."

Waiting for the winner of the eagerly-anticipated repeat of last year's semi-final will be Serbia's Novak Djokovic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, the man who shattered Roger Federer's hopes on Wednesday.

While Tsonga's extraordinary comeback means the expected showdown between the world's top four did not materialise as it did at the French Open, the semi-final line-up is still worthy of the 125th championships.

Djokovic, like Murray, lost his first two Wimbledon semi-finals but will be the favourite to beat the enigmatic Tsonga and secure his first appearance in a Wimbledon final.

The French 12th seed will have to reproduce the firepower he unleashed against Federer for three sets to stand any chance.

Should Djokovic win, he would be guaranteed the world No 1 ranking whatever Nadal does against Murray. The second seed will put that to the back of his mind, however, as he bids to add the Wimbledon title to the Australian crown he won at the start of a magnificent year.

The 24-year-old said he will have to step up his level though after spluttering against Bernard Tomic, the Australian teenager, in the quarter-finals as he dropped the second set in his four-set win.

"Tsonga is very dangerous, he's been playing great in the grass court season," said Djokovic, who has a 5-2 career lead over the Frenchman. "I'm aware of the importance of every match that I play. I'm very close to reaching the number one but, you know, I try not to think about that too much."

Wise words, because as Federer, the six-time champion, found out, Tsonga cannot be taken lightly.

The great entertainer has captured the hearts of the Wimbledon crowds this year and will come out swinging against Djokovic.

"I'm the type of player who likes these big moments ... so I hope I can have some more," Tsonga said."

* Reuters