Wimbledon 2012: Andy Murray beats Tsonga to reach final

By David OrnsteinBBC Sport at Wimbledon

Andy Murray became the first British man in 74 years to reach the Wimbledon singles final with a battling four-set victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The 25-year-old took a step that no compatriot had managed in 11 attempts since Bunny Austin in 1938.

He overwhelmed Tsonga 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-5 in two hours 47 minutes on Centre Court and faces 16-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer in Sunday's showpiece.

Fred Perry was the last British man to lift a major singles title in 1936.

Perry triumphed at Wimbledon and the US Open that season, and Murray will be desperate to emulate the Englishman's achievement.

It is his fourth Grand Slam final but the first at a venue where Federer is bidding for a record-equalling seventh crown.

While the Swiss offers formidable opposition, Murray will be confident of fulfilling the hopes of a nation after dispatching Tsonga.

"I feel a bit of relief, excitement, it's tough to explain," the Scot told BBC Sport. "It was such a close match in the end, both of us had chances.

"I started well, had one loose game on my serve at the beginning of the third set and he came back into it.

"It was tough to lose that set - I tried to stay calm but it's not easy. There's a lot of pressure when you're on the court, but you've just got to focus.

"I did well because he started to play really well. He had break points at 4-4 [in the fourth set] and I just managed to hang tough."

It was a deserved victory that ended a run of three straight semi-final defeats at the All England Club, yet one that many expected.

Having lost to Andy Roddick in 2009 and Rafael Nadal in 2010 and 2011, Murray knew this was probably his best chance of reaching the final.

He had won five of their six previous meetings, including a Wimbledon quarter-final in 2009 and last year's championship match at Queen's Club.

Tsonga is capable of the spectacular, but he was given few chances in the first two sets as Murray played some imperious tennis.

He broke in the opening game, served his way out of trouble to lead 3-1 and moved 5-2 ahead with one of numerous crosscourt forehand winners.

Murray was in the ascendancy and his brilliance continued in the second set as two venomous returns helped him strike in game five.

The fourth seed dropped only two points on serve to leave Tsonga looking helpless, but the Frenchman let loose early in the third set and it paid off.

A break to love had the fifth seed roaring with delight and suddenly he was dictating from the net and baseline. Now it was Murray cutting a dejected figure.

Not even the agony of being hit between the legs could halt Tsonga's charge and after forcing his way back into the match, he overturned an early break in the fourth set with a delightful half-volley.

Diving and tumbling around the grass, Tsonga came up with a huge forehand to force break points at 4-4 but, crucially, Murray dug deep before engineering an opportunity of his own at 6-5.

He planted a crosscourt forehand on to the sideline and although it was called wide, a Hawk-Eye challenge was successful and Murray pointed to the sky in celebration.


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