TENNIS ace Andy Murray yesterday smashed his way to the Wimbledon semi-final following a dramatic battle with Fernando Verdasco on centre court.
In true Murray form, the Scot released a passionate display of emotions ranging from despair to elation as he clinched the win despite losing the first two sets.
Although Union flags and faces drooped after a shaky start, a defiant Murray had the crowds at SW19 on their feet for much of the final three sets.
Long-term girlfriend Kim Sears and mum Judy watched intently, with a visibly distressed Miss Sears mouthing “Come on, Andy!” when he started to falter.
At times she looked close to tears as it looked like the Scot could be following in the steps of other Wimbledon favourites such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams to the exit.
Miss Sears’s rallying cries – and the constant supportive shouts from the crowd – were clearly the tonic Murray needed as the 26-year-old quickly clawed back two sets.
His head low, Murray could be seen shouting at himself, upping his game and stopping himself from becoming frustrated by Verdasco’s at times scintillating shots.
And Murray fought a braveheart battle to clinch the fifth set – beating the Spaniard 4-6 3-6 6-1 6-4 7-5.
An enormous roar erupted around centre court and from the crowd which had gathered on Murray Mount to watch the nail-biting quarter final.
Saltires were held aloft along with home-made banners of support for Murray – many with the now trademark chant: “Let’s go Andy, let’s go”.
Visibly relieved by his win, Murray looked to the sky and punched the air with delight before commiserating his clearly exhausted opponent.
It is the second time the Scot has managed to pull out a victory from two sets behind at a grand slam.
Speaking after the three-and-a-half hour-long battle, he paid tribute to the “unbelievable atmosphere” created by the crowd.
He credited Verdasco for making him pull out all the stops to play at his best – and also admitted he had contributed to his own undoing in the second set.
World number two Murray, who had beaten his opponent during eight out of nine of their previous matches, said: “He played extremely well in the first set, and in the second set I made some poor choices and he served fantastically well.
“He is a very, very good player. He used to be at the top of the game.
“I did hold my nerve at the end of the match, didn’t make any bad choices like I did in the second. I played more solid and took my time when I had the chance.
“It’s not a warning because I know how good these players are, it’s everyone else who is saying that they aren’t. I can lose these matches if I don’t play my best.”
Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and comedian Michael McIntyre were among the celebrities who watched the fast-paced action.
The win means Murray remains on course to stand a chance of becoming the first British player to lift the men’s Wimbledon trophy since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray became the first British man since 1938 to reach the Wimbledon final last year – and many commentators say 2013 could be his lucky year.
However, it is likely he would face Novak Djokovic – whom he beat to win his first major title at the US Open – who remains the world number one seed.
Murray will now play Pole Jerzy Janowicz, the 24th seed, who beat Lukasz Kubot 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 in the first quarter final.
Murray and Janowicz have split their two previous meetings.