Murray undone as Roddick steps his game up

Martin Caparrotta
By Martin Caparrotta

Andy Murray is the current world number three

He was on the brink of history, but Andy Murray will have to wait another year in his search for a Wimbledon title.

The British number one was beaten in four sets by number six seed Andy Roddick 6-4 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4) at SW19.

Andy Roddick was in superb form throughout the match, and a visible change of tactics from the American helped secure his place in the final where he will face Roger Federer on Sunday.

Fifteen thousand fans packed out Centre Court and an estimated three thousand or so more flocked to ‘Henman Hill’ to witness the semi-final encounter that awaited on the big screen at the All England Club.

As things finally got underway, Murray chose to receive Roddick’s serve – one of the best in men’s tennis. The American held firm in the opening game, slamming down two aces in the process.

In the rounds leading up to today’s clash, the number six seed served up 139 aces and he today hit the fastest serve of this year’s Championships at a staggering 143 mph.

The opening set was a close affair with neither player able to break serve until the ninth game where the American closed in on Murray, attacking the Scot’s inconsistent first serve at just 45%, and efficiently taking the set 6-4.

But after a comfort break, Murray came out all guns blazing at the start of the second set, smashing his way to a 40-0 lead and getting the first break when Roddick hit a forehand into the top of the net. The crowd were beginning to play their part too, as the atmosphere built up inside the stadium fuelled by the Scot’s new-found aggression.

The 22-year-old Brit served for the set at 5-4 and his improving serve was a defining factor in the second set as the number three seed bagged the set with a solid service game.

Throughout the match Murray, who so brilliantly mixes up the pace of the game, explored Roddick’s forehand with delicate sliced backhand shots, altering the speed and rhythm of the rallies and keeping his opponent on his toes.

But Roddick was at the top of his game all afternoon, countering Murray’s chopping and changing with his own set of deft drop shots and quality sliced backhands. He also served and volleyed to great effect.

The beginning of the third set saw Roddick win six points in a row from 0-40 down to take the first game. And it was the American who claimed the first break when he broke Murray in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. But Murray broke back at the final opportunity to get back in the set at 4-5.

A tie-break beckoned and it was the American who claimed the first mini-break on Murray’s serve. Roddick’s record in tie breaks this season has been phenomenal: played 28, won 24, and despite Murray having a set point, it was Roddick who won it 8-6 to take the set.

There was a more subdued atmosphere in Centre Court as the fourth set got underway, the crowd obviously affected by a somewhat lethargic Murray. But the British number one grinded on as the set stayed on serve.

Another tie-break was on the cards, and the tension on court was tangible. Despite saving one match point on Roddick’s serve, Murray was unable to save the second and eventually lost the tie-break 7-5.

“I had to play my best tennis out there to win today,” said Roddick after the match.

“Throughout my career I’ve had a lot of shortcomings, but the pressure was on Andy today and I played very well. It’s just a dream to be in another final.”

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