The scruffy Scot, Andy Murray, once again represents Britain’s last forlorn hope at Wimbledon. The bookmakers have him as the odds-on favourite to win this match but anyone who can detach themselves from predictions based largely on patriotism and sentiment must realise that he is not good value at 4/9 in the betting odds.
Murray faces the bookies’ 2/1 outsider for this match (with Bet365), and world number six, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The likeable Frenchman bears more than a passing resemblance to a young Muhammed Ali in the semi-final. The likeness does not end there either. Tsonga’s game and physique is pretty robust too. Yes, he is definitely a much easier man to beat than an on form Rafael Nadal who was the surprise early drop out in this section of the draw but he is certain to give Murray a run for his money at the very least. This is not an easy ticket to the final for the Scot.
One reason for doubting Murray is his performance in earlier rounds. In true British style he manages to make a meal out of beating relatively minor opposition. Whilst he succeeded in despatching Nikolay Davydenko and Marin Cilic with ease there were moments of doubt in his matches against both Marcos Baghdatis and Ivo Karlovic.
Murray has the shots, the strength and the stamina but his ability to focus and put them all together at the right time will always be questionable.
In the quarter final Murray encountered Spain’s David Ferrer on the centre court. Ferrer has gained his world number five ranking from playing very consistently rather than brilliantly. He reached the quarter final having lost only one set. He is so ferociously competitive that he has gained the nickname of the ‘Little Beast’. At just 5ft 9inches he is six inches shorter than Murray but Murray was unable to capitalise on his significant height advantage.
Ferrer took the first five points of the match whilst Murray did little more than look on. His first serve percentage was a woeful 51% in the early stages of the game. Not surprising then that Ferrer came close to breaking Murray’s first service game and succeeded on the second. At one point the Spaniard had a 5-3 advantage in the first set. Murray’s play was peppered with unforced errors whilst Ferrer was completely solid, chasing down everything that the Scot could throw at him.
Unlike Murray, Ferrer did not make a single error until the 27th minute. Murray finally began to find his feet and lost the first set in a tie break.
Ferrer gained the initiative in the second set too but seemed to lose concentration when serving for the set at 5-4. After falling behind in the tie break, Murray found fourth gear and eventually took the tie break 8-6.
Only in the third set did Murray manage to master his serve. He consequently took the set 6-4 and the rest is history. It was a great battle as Ferrer fought to the end and delivered some spectacular tennis for spectators.
His quarter final performance might have made good viewing but Murray is going to have to improve his standard of play significantly to overcome Tsonga. He may yet scrape through to the final but, at around 2/1, Tsonga is much better value in the Wimbledon betting.