LeBron provides Andy Murray inspiration
Britain's great Wimbledon hope Andy Murray compared himself with NBA great LeBron James on Wednesday after moving within two victories of his first major title.
The Scot has come tantalisingly close to a breakthrough, reaching three previous Wimbledon semi-finals, two Australian Open finals and one US Open final, but has always come up short in the final shake-up.
James won his first NBA championship with the Miami Heat last season after a few close shaves and Murray, a big basketball fan, said it was inspiring to see.
"LeBron James would be a good example," said Murray when asked if he could compare his situation to other sportsmen.
"He obviously is a great basketball player. He came very close to winning quite a lot of times.
"Him winning this year I'm sure was massive. For me as a basketball fan it was nice to see.
"I would say for me I guess it's a similar situation. I've been close a lot of times and not quite made it.
"You know, you just have to keep putting myself in the position, and hopefully it will click."
Murray, who came through a fierce battle with Spain's David Ferrer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, has been criticised for failing to perform in three grand slam finals, albeit losses to all-time great Roger Federer twice and world number one Novak Djokovic.
Often low-key and dour when talking about his tennis matches, Murray warmed to the task when discussing James.
"I follow basketball a lot and watch a lot of the sports news and stuff," he said. "There's a lot of people out there that didn't want him to win.
"There's a lot of people that said he would never win. There's a lot of people who said he never played his best in finals. In the fourth quarter of games he never steps up.
"Then you see how he played the whole of the finals, the whole of the playoffs.
"Sometimes it takes guys a bit longer than others."
Murray will hope James's exploits are an omen as he prepares to do battle with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday when victory would make him the first Briton to reach the Wimbledon men's singles final since 1938.
Murray reached a fourth consecutive Wimbledon semi-final with a dramatic 6-7 7-6 6-4 7-6 victory over Ferrer in a rain-disrupted quarter-final.
The British fourth seed thrilled the Centre Court crowd by fighting back from a set down to book a last-four meeting with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Murray gradually wore down tenacious seventh seed Ferrer after a nail-biting second-set tiebreak in which he fell 5-2 behind and saved a set point at 6-5 down before taking it 8-6.
He clinched the third set with an ace before a short rain interruption with the score 5-5 in the fourth and he won the decisive tiebreak 7-4, sealing victory in three hours 52 minutes with another ace.
The Scot, who sent down 18 aces altogether, said it was tense in the dressing-rooms during the rain interruption.
"At the break I went for a shower and threw some cold water on my face. It was a very intense atmosphere," he said.
"It was a huge match for both of us. Coming off at a critical stage, if I lost that fourth set it was going to be a very tough match."
In a clash packed with intriguing long rallies, Murray fought back from 5-2 down in the first set after a dominant start by Ferrer, a tenacious performer with four titles to his name this year.
Ferrer, who had previously dropped just one set in the tournament, had a set point in the first set at 5-4 but the Scot fended it off before the Spaniard came through to win the tiebreak 7-5 in a little over an hour.
Each player had a break in the second set with Ferrer setting himself up to serve for a 2-0 lead after Murray chipped wide, one of his few errors at the net.
However, Murray broke straight back as Ferrer uncharacteristically put two successive balls wide playing to his opponent's backhand.
Murray, seeking to become the first British man to reach the Wimbledon final since 1938, was full of praise for his opponent.
"He's a great player, he's number five and doesn't always get the respect.... he's an unbelievably hard worker," Murray said.