Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

To Win This Battle, Andy, Just Keep Calm and Carry On

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

To Win This Battle, Andy, Just Keep Calm and Carry On

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Jones at Wimbledon

[bar] T the end of each of his matches at this year's Wimbledon, a victorious Andy Murray has looked to the heavens, his fists clenched and both index fingers pointed upwards in quiet salutation. At least, that is, until yesterday evening, when he fired an ace down Centre Court past David Ferrer to seal a 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 7-6 victory and set up his fourth successive Wimbledon semifinal, against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Then the head went back but this time the arms were fully raised and the racquet held aloft, too: a more expansive celebration than he has allowed himself at any point so far in this, perhaps the most controlled and certainly the most impressive tournament at the All England Club in his career.

Watching Murray play is never a chore but it is not always a pleasure, either. For so much of his time around the top of the world rankings -- and particularly when playing on the grass of Wimbledon, with the Boden-clad English bourgeoisie braying him on -- he has seemed taciturn, frustrated and uncomfortable.

This year it is as if all that has been lifted from him. Whether it has been lifted by Ivan Lendl or simply by a growing comfort and maturity in himself, or by something else entirely, we do not yet know. All we can say is that the effect has been pronounced.

Yesterday, in the toughest match Murray has played in the fortnight so far, he was a picture of patience and focus.

He kept his emotions checked and his ground-strokes accurate. He was precise, sometimes ruthless, and nerveless when it counted. When things went awry, there were only occasional glances to his team box. His fist-pumps at each point won were short, almost private gestures, rather than the thumping great haymakers he has thrown so often to celebrate small victories in the past.

Importantly, Murray was not knocked off stride by the weather. He coped with a swirling wind on Centre Court, which he said afterwards made play particularly difficult from the Royal Box end. He also managed the breaks for bad weather without letting his concentration waver. Murray has had plenty of practice for this during the grey, precipitated days of this miserable July and, just as he did against Marcos Baghdatis in the third round, he allowed the drizzle, the showers and the dark green ground-covers to come and go without being distracted from the match situation. …

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