Sunday 17 December 2017 / 01:22 PM

Wimbledon – Murray In 5 Set Thriller

Andy Murray beat Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in an epic five set quarter-final clash on Centre Court to reach the last four at SW19 for the fifth time in his career.

The reigning US Open champion recovered from a two set deficit to remain on course for a second Grand Slam title but as the 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 7-5 result suggests, Murray was pushed to the limit by his superb opponent and dragged into a war which lasted nigh on three and a half hours.

With no match against a left hander to date in 2013, it was no surprise that Murray struggled early on to read the Verdasco serve which was as powerful as it was diverse for the majority of the match.

The former World No.7 claimed the first set with a break at in the tenth game, aided by a Murray double fault at 30-40 which epitomised the Scot’s flat display in the opening exchanges.

Verdasco by far the aggressor, Murray managed to hit back with a break early in the second set but was soon overwhelmed again by the Spaniard who cracked forehand after forehand winner on the way to a double break and a deserved two set lead.

It was no surprise to see Verdasco’s intensity ease slightly in the third and Murray read the signs, stepping up his energy and offence to outbox his opponent frequently from the baseline.

Murray’s reduced arrears helped him grow further and further into the match going into set four, but the Dunblane Dynamo still looked woefully vulnerable to the straight Verdasco forehand after opting to return cross court when stretched far too often throughout.

Murray stayed with Verdasco nevertheless going into the business end of the set and broke serve in the ninth game before holding serve confidently to take the match into a tantalising decider.

Neither man gave an inch for ten games thanks to some great serving and attacking counter shots but it was Murray who again found a way through when it mattered at 5-5 to break before serving out proceedings with nerves of sheer steel in front of an expectant audience.

Murray paid tribute to Verdasco afterwards and rightly so as the now Spanish No.9 had played the match of his life to contribute towards arguably the clash of the tournament so far.

The giant Jerzy Janowicz is up next for Muzza in the semis after his triumph over compatriot Lukasz Kubot, whilst in the other semi-final; Novak Djokovic faces Juan Martin Del Potro after both men recorded fine straight sets wins against Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer respectively.

In the Women’s draw, conqueror of Serena Williams Sabine Lisicki avoided the bounce factor to beat Kaia Kanepi and she will now square off with Agnieszka Radwanska in the last four following the Pole’s victory over Li Na.

And finalist of six years ago Marion Bartoli ended youngster Sloane Stephens’ run to set up a tie with Kirsten Flipkens in the last four after the Belgian underdog ousted 2011 champion Petra Kvitova in three dramatic sets.

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Chris Kisby

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