Focused Andy Murray will never lose eye of the tiger
Tim Henman thinks that Andy Murray has found an "inner peace" after winning his first Grand Slam title but believes the Scot has lost none of his fierce desire to keep scaling the peaks.
Henman expects Murray to reach his second successive Wimbledon final by beating Poland's Jerzy Janowicz here this afternoon and was encouraged by the manner of the world No 2's comeback victory from two sets down against Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday.
"There is definitely a greater maturity in Andy," Henman said yesterday. "There is no doubt that Andy's persona and disposition is much more comfortable and confident. He wasn't unhappy before, but he is definitely in a good place.
"Without going too deep, he has an inner peace. He has won a Grand Slam but there is still a burning desire to add to that. Yesterday was a good example. There was a sheer bloody-mindedness he wasn't going to let this get away."
Henman, who is working here as part of the BBC's commentary team, reached six Grand Slam semi-finals, including four at Wimbledon, but never made it to a final. Murray, who will be playing in his fifth successive Wimbledon semi-final, has reached six Grand Slam finals and finally ended Britain's 76-year wait for a men's singles champion when he won in New York last summer.
He is now aiming to become only the third British man – after Fred Perry and Bunny Austin – to reach more than one Wimbledon singles final since the Challenge Round (where the defending champion had to play only one match) was abolished in 1922.
Murray has won his last 16 grass-court matches and has shown remarkable consistency in the biggest events. He is aiming to reach the final at his fourth Grand Slam event in a row – he missed the French Open through injury –and has reached the semi-finals in nine of his last 11 Grand Slam tournaments.
"It's phenomenal what he has done," Henman said. "I sympathise with him as well in this era. If he had been in my era – the early 2000s – I think he would have won three or four Slams by now. To have been in six finals and won one is a reflection of the competition he has had and how good Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been."
Henman said Murray's inner belief was up there with all the great players, though he wondered whether the Scot's stubbornness had been a factor in his losing the first two sets to Verdasco, when he played too cautiously. "After the first set, things weren't exactly going to plan," Henman said. "It was Verdasco who was dictating play most of the time. Could he perhaps have turned it around a little bit more quickly? But at the end of the day it's about finding a way and he did that.
"He just stuck in there. There were uncomfortable moments in the fourth and the fifth set when he was break points down. He was serving second in the fifth. I think that comes down to his inner belief. He just said: 'I'm not losing this'."
Henman added: "Andy has the most incredible belief in his competitive instincts. I'd like him to have the same level of belief in some of his strengths, to say: 'I back myself on this second serve, I can stand in, I'm so good, I can dictate play.'
"When he does play like that, he makes life so much easier for himself because then it's his opponent who's doing the running and it's not Andy having to defend and react and stay in rallies. Which is absolutely what I think will happen if he were to play Djokovic in the final because it is a much more straightforward match-up."
Henman said he was not concerned that Murray had had to come through difficult passages in his last two matches. "He was average in the second set versus [Mikhail] Youzhny but he found a way to beat a top 20 player in straight sets. Likewise yesterday will have been a bit of a shock to the system – but in a very good way.
Henman believes that Janowicz, as the underdog playing in his first Grand Slam semi-final, will feel no pressure and will attack from the start. "He's going to go out there and serve probably bigger than he has ever served before and he's going to go for everything. Can he in those circumstances pull that off for a set, two sets, three sets? I think he could make life difficult, I think he could win a set, but I don't see him doing it over five sets."
The story of Murray in the last four showdowns
2009: The serve can be decisive
Lost to Andy Roddick 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6
The match was always close - Roddick won a total of 143 points to Murray's 141 - but the American's serve made the difference. Roddick's fastest serve was 143mph, which was 12mph quicker than Murray's. Even more importantly, Roddick put 75 per cent of his first serves in court compared with Murray's 52 per cent.
2010: Every point counts
Lost to Rafael Nadal 6-4, 7-6, 6-4
The match was much tighter than the scoreline suggested, but Nadal won most of the big points. The second set tie-break was crucial. Murray had one set point, which Nadal saved with a low volley. Two points later the Spaniard had a set point and took it with a big forehand.
2011: Don't let one missed shot get to you
Lost to Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4
Murray won the first set but when Nadal served at 1-1 and 15-30 in the second the Scot missed what should have been a routine forehand winner. With the mistake apparently playing on Murray's mind, Nadal (pictured) won 18 of the next 23 points to take control of the match.
2012: Be on your game from the start
Beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5
Tsonga, one of the best grass-court players, can be a danger to the very best, but Murray hit the front early and was never behind. Winning the first two sets meant he had a cushion even when Tsonga made his comeback in the third set, when Murray's level briefly dipped but he regained his composure to make it through.