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By Clare Fallon
LONDON, July 6 Andy Murray consigned one of
Wimbledon's longest-standing statistics to the scrapheap when he
became the first Briton to reach the men's final in 74 years
with a 6-3 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on
Since Bunny Austin became the last home hope to reach the
showpiece match in 1938, British men have lost in the
semi-finals on 11 occasions.
Murray stayed focused, including in the third set when
Tsonga's game suddenly caught fire, to end that sorry sequence
and the French showman's resistance in two hours 47 minutes.
The match finished in confusion when Murray's forehand
service return on matchpoint was called out, even as the Scot
was dropping his racket and putting his hands to his head in
relief at having apparently won.
Murray challenged the call and the giant-screen replay
showed the ball was in. Tsonga, waiting at the net to
congratulate Murray, smiled and patted the Briton on the
shoulder as the Centre Court crowd erupted.
The fourth seed will bid to become the first British man to
triumph at the citadel of grasscourt tennis since Fred Perry in
1936 when he takes on Roger Federer, chasing a record-equalling
seventh Wimbledon title, in the final on Sunday.
"It was an emotional end to the match," said Murray in a
courtside interview. "I just managed to hang tough enough and I
am so happy to be through."
Murray looked to have the match under control with superb
serving early on. In the second set he lost only two points on
his serve and Tsonga seemed to be losing faith in himself.
Tsonga disappeared off court with the trainer for two
minutes before the third set - saying later he had gone to
stretch and "unblock my back" - and returned a new man.
He broke Murray and went 3-0 up, then kept the advantage and
served for the set at 5-3, coming back from 15-30 down despite
being hit in the groin at very close quarters by a fierce volley
from Murray as the two men duelled at the net.
As Murray raised his racket in apology, Tsonga retreated to
the side of the court and curled up in a ball on his knees, in
obvious pain. When he recovered, he hit three quick winners to
take the set.
Asked about the incident, Tsonga, a semi-finalist here last
"I will get my revenge one time," he said.
Both men produced spectacular feats of athleticism, with
Tsonga leaping over a courtside bin as he raced in vain to try
to return a drop shot and Murray flinging himself headlong to
the ground as he tried to convert the second of two breakpoints.
With the set apparently heading for a tiebreak, and the
unwelcome prospect of a fifth set looming as the air grew chill,
Murray, who had beaten the Frenchman five times in six previous
meetings, produced some of his best returning as Tsonga served
at 5-6 to break and seal victory.
Murray, the fourth seed, could have expected to face Rafa
Nadal in the last four when the draw was made but the former
champion made a shock exit in the second round.
Asked how he felt about ending Britain's long wait for a
male finalist at Wimbledon, Murray said: "A bit of relief,
excitement, (it's) tough to explain; it was such a close match."
(Editing by Ed Osmond)