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Roddick's plan denies Murray; SEMI-FINAL: World No 3 crumbles in face of monstrous serve.

Byline: Brian Dick

AND the wait goes on. Seventythree years without a British Wimbledon champion will become at least 74, maybe 75 perhaps even 175, after Andy Murray suffered semi-final heartbreak last night.

The world No 3, this country's brightest All England hope since Fred Perry won the title in 1936, crumbled to a devastating 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) defeat by an inspired Andy Roddick.

The attention of the whole nation was focused on sun-kissed Centre Court yesterday evening as the 22-year-old battled for the right to meet Roger Federer in tomorrow's showpiece.

Indeed, given the Scot's status as prematch favourite, there was an air of expectancy rather than hope as Murray tried to become the first home player to make it into the final since Bunny Austin in 1938. But in truth he never looked like denying an American opponent who, having suffered three consecutive losses at Murray's hands, devised the perfect game plan. Underpinned by a monstrous serve, which started at the 140mph mark and rarely deviated, and impressively reliable ground-strokes, Roddick prevented Murray from making any inroads.

Instead it was the younger man's service which came under most scrutiny and although Roddick managed to break only twice, the same as Murray, it was in the two tie-breaks that the difference really told.

With the match finely balanced at one-set all and 6-6, the 26-year-old claimed three points off Murray's delivery, most crucially at 7-7 when Murray swatted a forehand long.

That gave Roddick the chance to take a lead he would never lose. Then, in the fourth-set tie-break, after 12 consecutive games on serve, the Texan got his nose in front to take it 7-5 and leave an entire nation with a tangible sense of disappointment.

Roddick made clear his intention in the very first point when he boomed down a 136mph ace to leave his oppo-nenrooted to the ground. Murray responded on the next point with a backhand drive that kissed the baseline only for Roddick to thunder his next effort at 140mph.

That was typical of the first set which was nip and tuck all the way, without a single break point until the world No 6 produced a delicate drop shot. That also gave him set-point which he converted when a big forehand forced Murray wide.

The home favourite roared back in the first game of the next set when, having been too passive on Roddick's serve, he produced his best tennis of the after-noowith three passing shots which gave him a break. He then served out to level the match.

In the third the combatants exchanged breaks in the fourth and ninth games as proceedings moved inexorably to a breaker. Two massive aces gave Murray a set-point at 6-5 only for Roddick to save with a brilliant stop-volley.

That was the Dunblane-born star's last chance to get his nose in front as both players held firm until the final decider. The result of which puts Roddick in the way between Federer and a record-breaking 15th grand slam. Murray, meanwhile, must wait for his first.


Slipping away: Andy Murray realises his dream of a place in the final is about to be ended.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Jul 4, 2009
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