Djokovic has gone, Federer has fallen and after a display of focused efficiency on Centre Court on Friday evening, Andy Murray will contest the Wimbledon final on Sunday as the favourite to reclaim the title he first won three years ago.
Murray defeated the Czech No 10 seed Tomáš Berdych in straight sets – 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 – in less than two hours. His opponent will be the Canadian Milos Raonic, who had earlier beaten Roger Federer in a marathon five-set battle.
With the departure earlier in the tournament of the previously all-conquering Novak Djokovic, Murray will carry the hopes of the nation into his third Wimbledon final, though the big-serving Raonic, the world No 7, will present a formidable challenge.
Speaking after the match, Murray said: “The older you get, you never know how many chances you will get to play in grand slam finals, so you want to make the most of your opportunities.”
At 29, and having already played 10 grand slam finals, of which he has won two, Murray said he had become better at dealing with nerves: “You learn from those matches for sure.”
Before the match, some had questioned whether it would be a repeat of the testy Murray-Berdych encounter at the 2015 Australian Open. Then, the Scot was riled about Berdych having poached his former team-member Dani Vallverdu; and his then girlfriend Kim Sears, now his wife, was captured on camera swearing profusely at the Czech from the players’ box.
Murray said he had apologised after that match and “we’ve been great since. To be honest, he’s always been extremely nice.”
And Kim Murray confined her support from the players’ box on Friday to fist-pumping and shouts of encouragement.
The return of Ivan Lendl to Murray’s coaching team earlier this year has sparked hopes that the Scot could repeat the successes of 2012 and 2013, when he won two grand slams and the Olympic gold medal under the Czech’s tutelage.
He defeated Raonic on grass last month in the final at Queen’s, but said of his fellow finalist: “He’s obviously playing probably the best grass-court tennis of his career. I’m aware I will have to play very well if I want to win.”
The world No 2 will not be the only Scot contesting a Wimbledon final this weekend, after Gordon Reid, a 24-year-old from west Dumbartonshire, secured a place in both the singles and doubles finals of the men’s wheelchair competition.
Reid lost the use of his legs at the age of 13 after he got transverse myelitis, a condition of the spinal cord. An enthusiastic club player before he contracted the disease, Reid won his first wheelchair tournament just weeks after leaving hospital. He is already a grand slam winner, having taken the Australian Open singles title in January. He will compete in the doubles with Alfie Hewett, an 18-year-old player from Norwich.
“I certainly wouldn’t be playing at Wimbledon if it hadn’t been for wheelchair tennis,” Reid said after his doubles match. “I don’t think I would ever have made it in tennis on my feet. Obviously it was a horrible thing to happen to me at such a young age, but I just tried to make the most of it. ”
The prizes on offer for the two players differ slightly – Murray has already secured at least £1m, which will double on Sunday if he lifts the trophy, while Reid will compete for £25,000 in his final.
But after enduring months of jokes about Scotland’s absence from the European football championship, Reid said of his and Murray’s prospects: “Hopefully we can improve the Scottish sporting summer by bringing a couple of Wimbledon titles home.”
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