Verdasco started the match very strong and played almost peerless tennis which had Murray struggling. The first set was won 6-4 in 45 minutes and although Murray had less unforced errors (3 to Verdasco’s 15), Verdasco was aggressive at the right moments.
In the second set, Verdasco tightened his game and really took it to Murray who by this time seemed to have slumped in both form and confidence. Verdasco took the second set 6-3 in 35 minutes. The Spaniard played some inspired tennis which may have demoralised the crowd on Centre Court and on Henman Hill but made any tennis lover happy. And indeed his many fans who have been alarmed by his drop in form over the last couple of years.
But as set three began, the crowd kicked in and Murray picked up on the fervour around him. He also picked up his game and capitalised in a slight drop from Verdasco. The momentum seemed to shift and suddenly the third set went 6-1 to Murray in 31 minutes, with a total of 30 winners from the Brit to Verdasco’s 17.
The fourth set was more competitive. As Murray admitted after the match, he had made some “poor choices” in the first two sets. Those mistakes were now compensated for and Murray remained the dominant player as he took the set 6-4.
Set five was tight as Verdasco signalled that he was not going to roll over and play dead just to satisfy a very loud and almost hysterical Centre Court crowd. It was a couple of errors at five all that allowed Murray to break and the match was over when Murray served it out. Or not quite over, since Verdasco challenged the last call where his shot was called out and the two players joked at the net.
Murray now takes on Poland’s Jerzy Janowicz in the semi-finals tomorrow after “JJ” beat his compatriot Luckas Kubot in his quarter-final, in straight sets. The British No 1 paid tribute to Verdasco and pointed out that Janowicz is one of the best young players on the tour. The flag of hope for Britain though is still flying.