Andy Murray flirted with disaster as he reached his first grand slam semi final after letting what seemed an unbeatable position slip from his grasp. Murray eventually winning 7-6(7-2) 7-6(7-1) 4-6 6-4 against Juan Martin Del Potro and ending the young man from Argentina’s impressive 23 match winning streak.
With Murray up two sets to love and a break to the good in the third set he looked certain to win comfortably in straight sets, but woeful serving and missed opportunities allowed Del Potro to win the third set and even at led twice by a break of serve in the fourth set – the alarm bells sounded for Murray at that point and he was able to raise his game to finally put Del Potro away.
With the history and words shared between these two we expected a fiery contest, on this occasion the two let their tennis do the talking and showed the US public some battling tennis. At the end of the match the pair seemed to have put their past behind them as the shook hands in longer than usual embrace.
The match as a whole followed this pattern of Murray taking advantage only to lose it back to Del Potro, it all started well for Murray, holding serve and breaking Del Potro in the Argentines first service game to lead 4-1 in the first set. Murray had done very little to win his advantage, a mix of decent drop shots and unforced errors had got him his lead and at this point and it only took Del Potro to raise his game by cutting down some of the errors to break back and then go on to secure another break to lead 5-4 with Del Potro serving for the first set.
It was now Murray’s turn to raise his game and break back, though he did get some help with two unforced errors from an obvious tight Del Potro. The set would be decided by a tie break and in recent months Murray has played some great tie breaks, this one would be no different, at 3-2 on serve with Del Potro serve, Murray produced the most sublime forehand drop shot that Del Potro could only watch and hope would fall short, it didn’t and Murray had the mini break. He consolidated that mini break with another and served out the tie break in fine style 7-2.
Murray did not drive home his advantage in the second and it looked like Del Potro would be first break, the man from Argentina had his chances producing break points in games 4, 6 and 8, though Murray came up with big ace or winner when required. The score moved onto 5-5 and Murray secured the first break of second set when Del Potro puts a backhand into the net. The advantage was short lived as Murray plays three of the worst points of his life which included a unusually woeful drop-shot an then blazes a forehand long to be broken to love and this set would be decided by another tie-break.
I did say Murray had been playing great tie breaks recently and what a start he made in this one, he raced into a 5-0 with three mini breaks which included two huge forehand winners. It didn’t take him long to finish this tie break off, going one better to win 7-1 this time.
Del Potro had received some treatment for his knee during the second set and was looked to be out of steam and as Murray ran him round the court another break of serve looked likely and Murray achieved this in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead, Del Potro throwing his racquet in rage after sending another forehand long.
With Del Potro moving slower than a heavyweight boxer it looked like it was game over, but like a heavyweight boxers Del Potro packs a mighty punch and he would not give up easily. In fact Del Potro would hit back immediately breaking back immediately with Murray again failing to build on his advantage. More chances would follow for Murray, but again Murray could not take them and then unthinkable happened, the big man from Argentina broke Murray again to lead 5-4 with a chance to serve out the match, which he did without too much fight from Murray.
In a lesson of firing home your advantage Del Potro broke the Scot in the opening game of the fourth, Murray looked completely out of sorts but gathers some composure to hold his own serve after Del Potro held his own comfortably. I don’t think any of the harshest of Murray’s critics would ever question is fighting qualities and whenever Murray is a break down, you know that he is always just a game away getting himself back into the set. A double fault from Del Potro, showing the Argentine teenager still has some nerves and a brilliant backhand from Murray gives the Scot the upper hand in Del Potro’s next service game and when Del Potro send yet another forehand long Murray secured the break back.
Murray’s serve was letting him down, the service winners had gone and he had to work harder and harder to win games on his serve, game 5 seen him save 3 break points to survive that game, but he would go down 0-40 in game 7 and Del Potro converted his second break to take another break lead in the fourth set.
Del Potro has never came back from two sets down and was looking like he may just break that record, but did I mention Murray was a fighter? And fight he did, never write Murray off, never ever. An awesome backhand volley and a forehand winner after a long rally that Murray looked to be on the back foot for most of allowed him to bring up more break back points at 15-40 on the Del Potro serve. He only needed one of them as Del Potro puts a backhand into the net.
With the William sisters waiting to get on court at this point Andy Murray would be well advised to finish this match off before he has to answer to the American sisters and their American fans waiting outside for the evening session to start.
Murray found his serve and held the next game comfortably, with Del Potro following suit to level at 5-5. Murray again produced an off service game and Del Potro sense’s a chance to break, he leads 15-30 before Murray steps up with 3 winners, a big first serve for a winner, a superb volley and a very welcome ace to take a 6-5 lead.
The moment of truth came for Del Potro, he needed to win this game to keep his unbeaten record going. The pressure was beginning to show as Murray went into 0-30 lead after two wayward shots by Del Potro, two shared points see Murray bring up his first match points at 15-40. Del Potro could only save one before Murray reaches his first grand slam semi final.
Andy will now face either Rafael Nadal or Marty Fish who will play later tonight in the evening session.