Flexible friends fire Murray closer to Federer showdown

By AFP July 5, 2016 18:47

Flexible friends fire Murray closer to Federer showdown

LONDON: Andy Murray will look to continue a golden winning streak against French opponents at Wimbledon on Wednesday, fired up by yoga and pilates.

The world number two, and 2013 champion at the All England Club, faces French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the semi-finals.

The 29-year-old Murray holds a 12-2 record over Tsonga and has won all of their four meetings on grass.

In fact, since 31-year-old Tsonga defeated the British star at the 2008 Australian Open, Murray has racked up 26 successive wins over French opponents.

Murray, who is bidding to reach a seventh Wimbledon semi-final, revealed he will prepare for Wednesday’s last-eight clash by doing Gyrotonic yoga and pilates.

“That was something I started doing a lot more of when I had my back surgery (in 2013),” he said.

“My back, now that I have been looking after it, doing way more different types of stretching, sort of injury prevention work, my back is no issue whatsoever.”

Tsonga lost to Murray at Wimbledon in 2010 and 2012.

But Murray will not under-estimate the two-time semi-finalist.

“Tsonga is one of the best grass court players in the world. If he plays well, I’m not on my game, I can lose that match for sure,” said the second seed.

Tsonga needed five sets, and four and a half hours, to beat John Isner in the third round but just 24 minutes to make the last-eight for the fourth time when compatriot Richard Gasquet retired with a back injury.

“Two days ago I was 5-5 in the third set, 15-40 against me, two sets to love down, and I came back. I’m still alive in this tournament,” said Tsonga.

“So everything can happen. I’m also very confident in my capacity to play great tennis and beat players like Andy.”

– Goran factor –

Seven-time champion Roger Federer admits 2001 Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic will prove a formidable opponent in his quarter-final against Marin Cilic even though the colourful Croatian retired 12 years ago.

Ivanisevic masterminded compatriot Cilic’s US Open title triumph in 2014, a victory which also saw him blast Federer off the court in the semi-finals.

That stunning triumph was Cilic’s only Slam title and his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Federer remains his only one against the Swiss star in six meetings.

Ivanisevic has been in Cilic’s corner as coach since 2013.

In that time, the 27-year-old has made three straight Wimbledon quarter-finals as well as the semi-finals at last year’s US Open.

“Goran’s done a wonderful job with Marin. He got him to the next level,” said third seed Federer, who will be playing in a record-equalling 14th quarter-final at the tournament.

Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam champion who can reach a record 307 match wins at the majors on Wednesday, added: “Marin blew me off court at the US Open.”

Cilic, the ninth seed, has never faced Federer on grass, and is attempting to make the semi-finals at the All England Club for the first time.

If Federer prevails, he will then face either US 28th seed Sam Querrey, the conqueror of Novak Djokovic in the third round, or sixth-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic.

Querrey has made the quarter-finals of a Slam for the first time in his 38th appearance at a major.

He holds a 2-1 winning record over Raonic and is the first American man in the quarter-finals in five years.

Raonic made the semi-finals in 2014 and has brought in John McEnroe to help steer him to a first major.

But he almost came unstuck in the fourth round, having to come back from two sets down for the first time to defeat David Goffin.

In the remaining quarter-final, French 32nd seed Lucas Pouille takes on 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych, the 10th seeded Czech.

Berdych reached his fourth quarter-final with a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10/8), 6-7 (9/11), 6-3 win over compatriot Jiri Vesely on Tuesday on an eighth mach point after the tie was halted for darkness on Monday.

Pouille had never won a grass court match before this year’s Wimbledon while his best performance at a major was a pair of second round runs at Roland Garros in 2013 and 2016.




By AFP July 5, 2016 18:47


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