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Importance of SW19 not lost on Murray
07:45, Jul 6 2012
It may have taken Andy Murray a bit of time to appreciate the history and tradition of Wimbledon, but the Scot will know exactly what it means if he reaches his first final at the All England Club later today.
Murray takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the semi-finals hoping to make it past the stage where he has tripped up in the last three years. This is the 25-year-old's seventh appearance at Wimbledon, with his debut coming in 2005, when he reached the third round before running out of steam against David Nalbandian.
Murray said: "When I first played here I didn't understand what it was like, and it still took a few years for me before I understood how important this tournament was to me, how important it is to tennis, and also this country, as well."
He added: "I didn't necessarily appreciate that the first time I played because you're just a kid. It's something new for you. You're excited to play on Centre Court. It wasn't until I played a lot of matches there that I started to understand how special a court it was.
"I spent some time here during the year sitting on the court when there was no one else there just thinking what it was like. So it's become more and more special to me the more years I've played. I've started to understand how important it is to tennis."
While Murray will go into the match as the favourite, fifth seed Tsonga is a dangerous opponent and last year became the first man ever to beat Roger Federer from two sets down at a grand slam in the quarter-finals here.
Murray has a great record against the Frenchman, though, winning five of their six matches, and he said: "I'll draw on the experience of my seven years on the tour. Having played Jo quite a lot of times, I know him well. We played a lot in the juniors, so I've known him for a long time.
"Rather than focusing on it being the semi-finals of Wimbledon, I need to focus on it being a match against him and what I do well against him and what's worked against him in the past."
Tsonga is a crowd favourite wherever he plays and will have supporters, but he accepts the Centre Court crowd will largely be siding with home favourite Murray, bidding to become the first British men's singles finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938.
While Tsonga was roared on to victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber on Wednesday, he said: "It will be a totally different match against Andy. It'll be madness. Almost all the crowd will be with him. I will have nothing to lose, the pressure will be on him. We're at a new stage of the tournament now. I'm going to try to play it with a light heart."
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