Crowd helps Murray avoid Wimbledon slip

01:09, Jul 04 2013
Wimbledon 2013
Andy Murray wins in straight sets in the first round of Wimbledon 2013, proving he can handle the pressure of British expectations.
Wimbledon 2013
Victoria Azarenka is in pain, but hit back to win through in straight sets.
Wimbledon 2013
Roger Federer has eased through in the first round of Wimbledon after his disappointment in Paris.
Wimbledon 2013
Lleyton Hewitt managed to surprise a few with his shock victory over Stanislav Wawrinka.
Wimbledon 2013
Ana Ivanovic has made it through to the second round of Wimbledon 2013.
Wimbledon 2013
Petra Kvitova celebrates in style after securing a first round victory at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2013
Kristina Mladenovic plays a forehard - but her Wimbledon adventure didn't last long against Maria Sharapova.
Wimbledon 2013
Garbine Muguruza delivers a big forehand against home favourite Anne Keothavong at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2013
In one of the biggest shocks of all time Rafael Nadal departed a Grand Slam in the first round for the first time.
Wimbledon 2013
Nadal was beaten by unheralded Belgian Steve Darcis - the biggest win of the journeyman's career.
Wimbledon 2013
Glamour girl Maria Sharapova made it through easily enough, keeping up her record of never losing in the first round at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2013
Caroline Wozniacki fared better than boyfriend Rory McIlroy has over the last few months with first-round victory at Wimbledon.
Carina Witthoeft
Germany's Carina Witthoeft serves during her first round loss to Kimiko Date-Krumm.
Sam Stosur
Sam Stosur took just over an hour to sweep aside Slovakian teenager Anna Schmiedlova.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams got her Wimbledon title defence underway, winning in less than an hour.
Marina Erakovic
Marina Erakovic hit 12 aces and 40 winners as she got past Japan's Ayumi Morita in the first round.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic signs autographs for fans after his first round win over Germany's Florian Mayer.
Bernard Tomic
An ill Bernard Tomic covers his face with a towel during a change of ends.
Laura Robson
Local hope Laura Robson celebrates after defeating 10th-seed Maria Kirilenko.
Alison Riske
Alison Riske appears to be among the crowd as she serves during her match on Court 10.
Wimbledon centre court
A soldier stands on Wimbledon's centre court during a break in play.
Wimbledon balls
A ball boy lays out new balls at Wimbledon.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova gets up after slipping on centre court during her second round loss to qualifier Michelle Larcher de Brito.
Lleyton Hewitt
Lleyton Hewitt wipes sweat from his face during his loss to Dustin Brown.
Aussie Fanatics
Members of the Aussie Fanatics spectator group during Lleyton Hewitt's match.
Wimbledon net
A player walks behind the net during a break at Wimbledon.
Serena Williams
Serena Williams avoided the string of upsets taking out top seeds at Wimbledon, beating Caroline Garcia 6-3 6-2 in the second round.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova, bounced from Wimbledon on day three, watches boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov in action.
Virginia Wade
Commentator and former Wimbledon winner Virginia Wade speaks to the camera.
Grigor Dimitrov
Grigor Dimitrov winces as he gets treatment during his match against Grega Zemlja.
Jesse Levine
Jesse Levine of Canada stretches to hit a volley against Juan Martin del Potro.
Bernard Tomic
Bernard Tomic stumbles to the grass during his match against James Blake.
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro serves during his centre court match against Jesse Levine.
Klara Zakopalova
Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic hits a backhand shot against Annika Beck.
Marina Erakovic
Marina Erakovic pumps her fists after upsetting 24th seed Peng Shuai in the second round at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon roof
Grounds crew remove the covers after the centre court roof was closed during match between Agnieszka Radwanska and Mathilde Johansson..
Laura Robson
Laura Robson plays a forehand shot during the conclusion of her match against Colombian qualifier Mariana Duque-Marino.
Grigor Dimitrov
Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov slips into the splits on a slippery court against Grega Zmelja.
Jurgen Melzer
Jurgen Melzer tumbles head over heels during his match against Sergiy Stakhovsky.
Jerzy Janowicz
Jerzy Janowicz gets down low to play a backhand volley.
Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber gathers her thoughts beneath a towel during her loss to Kaia Kanepi.
British fan
A spectator in Union Jack clothing cheers on Laura Robson.
Wimbledon 2013 gallery
Andy Murray celebrates his win over Tommy Robredo.
Mikhail Youzhny
Mikhail Youzhny salutes to his supporters after defeating Victor Troicki in the third round at Wimbledon.
Marina Erakovic
Marina Erakovic missed a chance to serve for the match, then lost eight straight games to Laura Robson.
Laura Robson
Laura Robson reaches to play a forehand against Marina Erakovic.
Kenny de Scheepers
Kenny de Scheepers plays a shot on the run.
Wimbledon fans
Wimbledon fans dressed in all in pink watch Bernard Tomic and Richard Gasquet.
Bernard Tomic
Bernard Tomic drops to all fours after hitting a shot at the net.
Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki plays a forehand against Sam Stosur.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer is all concentration as he hits a backhand against Alexandr Dolgopolov.
Wimbledon 2013
Hot favourite Serena Williams is the latest big name to go out of the 2013 Wimbledon championships.
Wimbledon 2013
Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland celebrates after defeating Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria in their women's singles match.
Wimbledon 2013
Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina hides his face in his shirt after losing a point during his men's singles tennis match against Andreas Seppi.
Wimbledon 2013
Sabine Lisicki of Germany celebrates after defeating Serena Williams of the U.S. in their women's singles match.
Wimbledon 2013
Andy Murray of Great Britain celebrates match point during the Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Mikhail Youzhny of Russia on day seven of Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2013
Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during the Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Tommy Haas of Germany on day seven of Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2013
Jerzy Janowicz of Poland celebrates match point during the Gentlemen's Singles fourth round match against Jurgen Melzer of Austria.
Kerrilyn Cramer
Chair umpire Kerrilyn Cramer watches on during the women's quarterfinal between Sabine Lisicki and Kaia Kanepi.
Kaia Kanepi
Estonian Kaia Kanepi plays a no-look backhand.
Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki reacts after a point during her quarterfinal victory over Kaia Kanepi.
Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska (right) and Li Na shake hands after their three-set Wimbledon quarterfinal.
Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli is handed new racquets by a ball-boy during her match against Sloane Stephens.
Sloane Stephens
Sloane Stephens powers into a forehand against Marion Bartoli.
Wimbledon rain
Spectators huddle under umbrellas during a rain break at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon rain
Wimbledon ground crew sprint out on the court to bring out the rain covers.
Kirsten Flipkens
Belgian Kirsten Flipkens reacts after upsetting Petra Kvitova to reach the semifinals.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic serves in the first set during his quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych.
Tomas Berdych
Tomas Berdych squeezes a backhand volley over the net.
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro drops to the grass after finishing off David Ferrer.
David Ferrer
David Ferrer could not take advantage of Juan Martin del Potro's injured knee.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Nemanja Vidic
Sir Alex Ferguson and Nemanja Vidic watch Andy Murray.
Jerzy Janowicz and Lukasz Kubot
Jerzy Janowicz (right) swaps shirts with compatriot Lukasz Kubot after their all-Polish quarterfinal at Wimbledon.
Jerzy Janowicz
Jerzy Janowicz plays a backhand shot during his quarterfinal against Lukasz Kubot.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray's face shows the anguish as he fell two sets behind.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray throws his wrist-band into the crowd after defeating Fernando Verdasco.
Andy Murray
Andy Murray stretches full-length to reach a ball against Fernando Verdasco.
Murray Mound
Spectators on 'Murray Mound' watch Andy Murray play Fernando Verdasco on the big screen.
Fernando Verdasco
Fernando Verdasco won the first two sets but could not hold off Andy Murray.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic is handed his racquet by a ballboy after falling while diving to play a shot.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic kicks the ball away on a Juan Martin del Potro service fault.
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro takes a seat with the crowd to catch his breath.
Juan Martin del Potro
Juan Martin del Potro stretches for a forehand volley.
Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic leaps in the air as he returns a Juan Martin del Potro serve.
Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli with the Venus Rosewater Dish after winning the ladies singles final at Wimbledon.
Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli poses with the Venus Rosewater Dish.
Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli is at full-stretch to play a shot.
Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki shed more tears, this time after losing in the final.
Sabine Lisicki
Sabine Lisicki had no answers for Marion Bartoli.
Wimbledon
Wimbledon ballgirls wait while a point is played.
Wimbledon
Clear blue skies hang over Wimbledon for the ladies singles final.
Bryan Brothers
The Bryan brothers do their trademark chest-bump after winning the Wimbledon title.
Bryan Brothers
The Bryan brothers, Bob (left) and Mike, hold up the gentlemen's doubles trophies after winning their fourth straight grand slam.
Wimbledon 2013
Andy Murray lifts the Wimbledon trophy.
Wimbledon 2013
People in Andy Murray's hometown, Dunblane, celebrate his Wimbledon victory.
Wimbledon 2013
Andy Murray celebrates after winning the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic.
Wimbledon 2013 gallery
Andy Murray reacts after winning Wimbledon.

When Andy Murray dropped the first two sets of his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, the 15,000 Centre Court spectators were reduced to a silence so complete that birds could be heard chirping.

By the time his five-set comeback was nearly complete, more than two hours later, the fans were greeting each point that went Murray's way with celebrations of the sort normally reserved for a championship. It's been 77 years since a British man won the country's Grand Slam tennis tournament, and thanks to the second-seeded Murray's 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco, the locals still can hold out hope the wait will end Sunday.

Murray will play in the semi-finals at the All England Club for the fifth consecutive year Friday, facing No 24 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. The other semi-final is No 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.

There is no doubt who will be the recipient of the most boisterous support.

"Great atmosphere at the end of the match...I love it when it's like that. It was extremely noisy," said Murray, who lost last year's Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. "They were right into it, pretty much every single point."

Murray needed to summon some strong tennis, and plenty of grit, for his seventh career victory over Verdasco. He never panicked - no matter what all of his self-admonishing muttering and gesticulating looked like - and eventually figured out how to handle Verdasco's powerful serves and high-risk, high-reward style.

"When you play more and more matches, and gain more experience, you understand how to turn matches around and how to change the momentum of games," Murray said. "Maybe when I was younger, I could have lost that match. But I've learnt how to come back from tough situations more as I got older."

He's only 26, but he truly has matured as a player over the past 12 months. After shedding tears following the 2012 Wimbledon final, Murray returned to the same spot four weeks later and beat Federer to win a gold medal at the London Olympics. Then, at the US Open in September, he defeated Djokovic to win his first Grand Slam title.

Wednesday's other quarterfinals lasted a mere three sets each and the most compelling segments came at the very beginning of 2009 US Open champion del Potro's 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win against No 4 David Ferrer, and the very end of Janowicz's 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot in the first Grand Slam match between two men from Poland.

Janowicz, 22, reached his first major semi-final - the first for a man from his country - by pounding down 30 aces, and saving all six break points he faced. When it finished, Kubot walked around the net to Janowicz's side of the court and the pair of Davis Cup teammates embraced and exchanged shirts.

Janowicz sat in his sideline chair, covered his face and sobbed.

"It's not easy to control all of the feelings inside my body," he said. "I was never in (a major) quarterfinal before. I never had a chance to be in (the) semi-final of a Grand Slam. I never played against Lukasz before."

Janowicz gave a succinct answer when asked for his thoughts about the semi-final between Djokovic vs. del Potro: "I don't care."

On the fifth point del Potro played Wednesday, his left foot slid out from under him as he sprinted to reach a ball. Del Potro's heavily wrapped left knee, which he hyperextended on a face-first tumble in the third round, slackened, then bent backward.

"Really painful," del Potro said. "I was scared."

He fell to the turf and rolled over twice, then stayed down until a trainer came out to check on him and dispense anti-inflammatory medicine.

"Magic pills," del Potro called them.

After a 10-minute break, he resumed playing - and playing quite well.

He hasn't lost a set en route to his first Wimbledon semi-final. Djokovic also has won all 15 sets he's played, including in a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over No 7 Tomas Berdych to reach a 13th consecutive Grand Slam semi-final, the second-longest streak in men's tennis history behind Roger Federer's 23.

Djokovic entered Wednesday with a 13-2 lead in their head-to-head series, but one loss came at Wimbledon in 2010, when Berdych was the runner-up, and the other came in their most recent meeting, at Rome in May. The first set was tight, and Berdych led 5-4 in the tiebreaker before faltering. He sent a return long, badly missed what should have been a routine backhand, then pushed a forehand wide for another error.

That gave Djokovic the opening set, but Berdych responded strongly, breaking twice to lead 3-0 in the second. Not surprisingly, Djokovic awoke again, taking seven of the next eight games.

"I don't know how I managed to turn the second set around," said six-time major champion Djokovic, who won Wimbledon in 2011. "I managed to step in and just tried to be a little bit more aggressive. That brought me a victory."

He's 8-3 against del Potro. The last time they met, though, in March at Indian Wells, Djokovic lost. And the last time they played at the All England Club, in the bronze-medal match at the Olympics, Djokovic lost, too.

"He's very tall, so he uses that serve as a powerful weapon. And of course (the) forehand, that is his signature shot," Djokovic said. "You know, its semifinals, so everything is open, on the table."

The early eliminations of Federer and Rafael Nadal from the tournament opened up the draw for Murray, who has as good a chance as anyone to claim a trophy no British man has earned since Fred Perry in 1936.

That certainly seemed in peril when Verdasco grabbed a two-set lead.

"The second set," Murray said, "was a bad set of tennis for me."

But he broke to go ahead 2-0 in the third, which he wrapped up rather easily.

"Gave him a lot of confidence," Verdasco said.

Trailing 3-2 in the fourth, Murray faced two break points. Said Verdasco: "The match wouldn't have been over, but I would have been real close."

Murray erased one break point with a service winner, the other with an ace. Then he broke in the very next game, during which Verdasco complained to the chair umpire about too much noise during the course of play - the "oohs" and "aahs," the yelps of excitement, the groans of disappointment.

Quickly, Murray took the fourth set, too.

In the fifth, Verdasco led 4-3 when Murray fell behind love-30 while serving. Again, Murray came through, taking the next four points to make it 4-4.

"They gave him strength," Verdasco said. "How much, you don't know. But having the crowd's support can help."

At 5-5, a 21-stroke exchange closed with Verdasco dropping a backhand into the net to give Murray a break point, the last he would need. Murray came up with one of several superb returns, and Verdasco missed a forehand. That made it 6-5, and Murray served out the match to love.

"Verdasco played very well," said Murray's coach, eight-time major champion Ivan Lendl. "Andy did what he had to do to win."

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AP