Murray on the drift
Tim Clement considers why Andy Murray's chances of winning Wimbledon have drifted out
Last Updated: 04/07/13 10:52pm
The Scot showed the sort of resilience we have come to expect from him in coming from two sets down to prevent SW19 witnessing another significant upset.
However, what we are not accustomed to is the sloppy first two sets that put the world No 2 in such a precarious position, in particular a second set littered with 12 unforced errors.
To put that into context, Novak Djokovic only made one more in his victory over Tomas Berdych while Juan Martin del Potro made one fewer in ousting David Ferrer.
Indeed, it is the impressive performances from Murray's remaining rivals that have added to doubts.
While Djokovic and Del Potro dismissed fourth and sixth seeds with imperious displays, the Scot struggled against a player ranked 54 in the world who has not landed a title since 2010.
However, perhaps most concerning is the phenomenal form of Murray's semi-final opponent, Jerzy Janowicz.
The powerful Pole's victory in their most recent meeting in the Paris Masters is warning enough alone, but his recent form is even more frightening.
Janowicz's stats are the most impressive of anyone left in the draw, with the most aces (90) and the fastest serve (140 mph). He has won 84 per cent of the points on his first serve.
Even more concerning is that he put in his most devastating display when the pressure ought to have been telling, producing 30 aces, 58 winners and his fastest serve in the biggest match of his career as he beat Lukasz Kubot in straight sets on Court One.
However, it is one thing pumping winners past fellow Pole, good friend and world No 134 Kubot and an another entirely doing the same against Murray, one of the game's best defenders.
Verdasco produced arguably his best performance in a number of years but still ended with the same amount of unforced errors as winners, while actually landing fewer aces than the second seed.
Murray's ability to wear down his opponents and nudge them gradually towards self-destruct mode is perhaps one of his greatest weapons, so it will be intriguing to see how the 22-year-old deals with not having it all his own way for once.
After all, there is a reason why he headed into Wimbledon with a 15-12 win to loss ratio this year, compared to Murray's 27-5.
Therefore favouritism is deservedly handed to the US Open champion, but odds of 4/1 on Janowicz prevailing, almost half the price Verdasco was offered at, acknowledge the threat.
While Murray's experience and guile should see him safely through, backing the Pole to win the first set at 5/2 could be the way to go against the notoriously slow starter.
Del Potro is actually considered the longest price of anyone to reach the final at 9/2 but enjoyed victory over Djokovic in their last meeting, which was actually at SW19 as he secured a bronze medal for Argentina at the Olympics.
A common theme prevails across the two ties, with the big hitting outsiders looking to repeat great successes against the game's most resilient defenders.
While both Janowicz and Del Potro possess the weapons to defy their underdog statuses, it remains to be seen whether they can match the mental nerve of the top two seeds on Centre Court.