Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Andy Murray v Janowicz: Scot eyes Wimbledon final place

Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during the Gentlemen's Singles semi-final match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a backhand during the Gentlemen's Singles semi-final match against Jerzy Janowicz of Poland on day eleven of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 5, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Andy Murray embarked on a tall challenge this afternoon as he stepped on to Centre Court to fight a 6ft 8in Pole for a place in the Wimbledon final.

Murray, 26, arrived on the hallowed turf of the All England Club's main lawn to a roar of support from the crowd.

The 6ft 3in Scot must overcome Jerzy Janowicz, 22, to claim a place in the deciding clash of the grand slam.

He set out on this afternoon's tie shortly after world number one Novak Djokovic drew a standing ovation as he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina to claim his spot in Sunday's final.

Actor Jude Law was among a host of famous faces who took their seats in the Royal Box to watch the action.

The Alfie star was joined by the Duke of York, boxer Amir Khan, veteran broadcaster Sir David Frost and Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue.

Meanwhile Pippa Middleton put in a second appearance at the All England Club with her boyfriend Nico Jackson.

The Duchess of Cambridge's sister, 29, who watched from the Royal Box on Monday with her brother James, took a seat in the crowd this afternoon.

Away from the court, thousands of fans clambered on to Murray Mount to watch the match on a big screen.

Many took up positions hours before the clash after sprinting to find a spot on the steep bank as they arrived at the grounds.

Barely an inch of grass was visible by 11am and groups of supporters were urged to move to Court Two where organisers set up another screen this afternoon.

Earlier Murray predicted his semi-final bout would be a "very tough match" but insisted he would not be intimidated by his imposing 91kg opponent.

Janowicz, the first Polish man in history to reach the semi-finals of a Grand Slam, stands nearly half a foot taller than the Scot and is renowned for his power on court.

Today's encounter comes after a difficult quarter-final for the British number one who found himself at the brink of defeat on Wednesday before he clawed his way back to victory with the backing of a roaring crowd.

Murray later said that support was crucial to his campaign.

The crowd on Centre Court today appeared to have taken his words on board and spurred the player on with rallying cries of: "Come on, Andy!"

A win today would keep Murray on course to become the first British player to lift the men's Wimbledon trophy since Fred Perry in 1936.

The Prime Minister and former boxer Lennox Lewis offered their support ahead of his semi-final meeting.

David Cameron, who has been accused of jinxing players with his messages of encouragement, wrote: "fingers crossed for @Andy-Murray at £Wimbledon."

Earlier this week he wished British women's number one Laura Robson luck before she bowed out of the grand slam and last year his visits to a string of Olympic events coincided with British hopefuls losing out on medals.

But Murray has said he is not superstitious and that the PM's messages have "absolutely zero bearing" on the outcome of his matches.