• Rewind to 2008

Murray mania overwhelms Gasquet at Wimbledon

Ismail Vedat
June 27, 2013
Andy Murray had the crowd on Centre Court on the edge of their seats © AP

Andy Murray has learnt to cope with the expectations of Great Britain on his shoulders at Wimbledon, and prior to reaching the final 12 months ago, it was back in 2008 when the Scot kept everyone on Centre Court on the edge of their seats.

When Murray withdrew from the 2007 Championships no one was more disappointed than himself, saying: "I love playing Wimbledon because of the great support I get from the British public and that is what I will miss the most."

A wrist injury had failed to heal in time, and in order for the problem to fully recover he required 10 days on the sidelines and those 10 days happened to be during Wimbledon.

So a year on the British No. 1 was determined to be 100% fit for SW19 and give something back to the home support.

For years Tim Henman carried the hopes of a nation, but with the former top-ranked Brit slipping into retirement and the comfort of the commetary box, the responsibility was passed onto Murray at the tender age of 21.

The added - and somewhat unwanted - media attention did not harm the performances of Murray, as he dropped only one set in his first three matches against Fabrice Santoro, Xavier Malisse and the dangerous Tommy Haas.

A fourth round showdown with Richard Gasquet awaited, and the Frenchman as the eighth seed provided the biggest test yet for the Scot.

The year before Gasquet had progressed to the semi-finals of the tournament - losing out to eventual champion Roger Federer - and had the experience of playing in big matches having reached a string of World Tour Masters and 500 Series finals.

And it showed as Murray was always under pressure in the opening set with Gasquet serving first - and holding - to always be in front.

On any ordinary day, the majority of the Centre Court crowd would have purred at the silk-smooth single-handed backhand of Gasquet, but this was no ordinary day. This day was meant to be Murray's day.

Gasquet had clearly not read the script. Once the opening set went in the direction of Gasquet, the eighth seed began to motor, and it became increasingly apparent Murray was struggling to cope with the groundstrokes and devastating all-round play of the Frenchman.

In the blink of an eye the scoreboard read a set and 5-2 in Gasquet's favour. There were no signs of a Murray revival, and soon the British No. 1 found himself two sets down.

Andy Murray recorded one of his greatest wins at a grand slam © AP

And the Wimbledon exit door began to creep open at 4-4 in the third set. A combination of a drop shot and a massive backhand enabled Gasquet to secure the break, and now he had the opportunity to serve for the match and a place in the quarter-finals.

In order to keep his hopes alive, Murray had to break the Gasquet serve - something the Brit had so far been unable to do. Throughout his career Murray has never been far from drama and with defeat staring him in the face, he broke serve, albeit through a double fault from Gasquet. for all Gasquet's class, he has struggled to get over the line on the big occasions and he appeared to choke, plain and simple.

The crowd sensed this from Gasquet and, crucially, so did Murray. The home favourite produced a magic shot to clinch the third set on a tiebreak.

Gasquet believed he had done enough at the net to finish off the point. Instead, Murray - from several feet outside of the court - got a backhand onto the ball to make the winner, which was followed by a roar when the momentum of Murray almost threw him into the crowd. Cue the start of an incredible fightback.

Now a completely different player, Murray romped to the fourth set for the loss of only two games, and a fifth and final set was on the cards as Gasquet fell to pieces.

With the break clinched and consolidated by the second game with a ferocious ace, Murray backed by the 15,000-strong Centre Court capacity crowd was heading towards the last-eight.

It was Gasquet's turn to feel the heat at 5-4 down and needing to break serve to stay in the match as daylight began to fade.

Murray played a dodgy drop shot to allow Gasquet in at 15-15, but the Brit produced two powerful serves - an ace which was challenged unsuccessfully and one to the body - to clinch the match, to which he celebrated by flexing his muscle on his right arm.

"That was the best moment I've ever had on a tennis court. To come back from two sets to love and win it is an awesome feeling. The crowd got behind me just when I needed it and to have them behind me was a privilege," a jubilant Murray said after one of his greatest wins at a grand slam.

And on Gasquet choking when he served for the match in the third set, Murray added: "I think he got a bit nervous towards the end of third set. If I play like that again there's no reason I can't win."

What happened next?

Murray's dream Wimbledon run was brought to an abrupt end in the quarter-finals by Rafael Nadal, with the Spaniard outclassing the Scot 6-3 6-2 6-4 to reach the last-four.

While Nadal would go on and beat Federer in one of the greatest matches of all-time in the final in five sets, Murray went to the US Open and reached his first major final, where he fell to Federer in three sets.

Andy Murray's dream run at Wimbledon was ended by Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals © AP
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