The World No.4, who has now disposed off the fifth-seeded Frenchman on seven of the eight occasions they’ve met, produced a topsy-turvy display, but hit the ground running in an imperious start.
In the opening set, his service game could be best described as inconsistent but was far superior to that of Tsonga, who looked uncharacteristically sluggish when compared to the rampant Scot. Indeed, Murray broke immediately, and laid down a marker from which he would rarely falter throughout the first two sets, racing to a 6-3 first set victory in good time.
If raw power is the basis of the Tsonga challenge, then you wouldn’t have guessed it from the opening rallies. The Briton looked fitter, fresher, and indeed more powerful than the burly Frenchman, unleashing a series of fearsome cross court winners comparable to the greats of the game.
Tsonga is feared throughout the circuit for his fearsome hitting and never-say-die attitude. However, early on in a Wimbledon semifinal, when these attributes should have been on full display, they alluded him with dire consequences, Murray breaking again in the second and looking likely to complete a rampant three set thrashing. He took the set 6-4, and looked as impressive as at any point in his increasingly promising career.
And then. All of a sudden, with little warning, Tsonga jumped to life. With each scowl of his simian features, he grew into the vital third set, his beastly 6 ft. 2 inch frame coming to the fore as he wrestled possession of the games’ momentum. Murray, whose recent form has suggested a shedding of his previously fragile mentality, took on the psyche of a rabbit in headlights, and for large sections of the set he looked alarmingly ill-equipped to deal with his opponent’s brutal physicality. 6-3 Tsonga. Game on!
The feeling of expectation around Centre Court turned to anxiety as the two athletes perused the opening exchanges of the fourth set. Tsonga retained the all important momentum, but with each passing game, Murray crept back into it, reaffirming the swagger and confidence he showed in the opening throws. Each player swapped broken games in quick succession, and with each tense rally, a tiebreak looked increasingly likely to separate the two. The old Murray, when faced with Tsonga’s service to take the set to a 6-6 stalemate, would have produced safe tennis, waiting for his mistake to pounce on a place in the final. Not Lendl’s Murray. He took the second of two match points, breaking serve to confirm his place alongside Roger Federer in Sunday’s final.
In what continues to be an enthralling summer of British sport, Murray’s Wimbledon performance takes the limelight as top performance thus far. If he is to defeat the legendary Swiss and lift the trophy in front of his loyal support, then no cricketing victory, Wiggins win or even Olympic success will match the majesty of ‘Andy Murray – Wimbledon champion’.