Reuters: Briton Andy Murray is hitting all the right shots and saying all the right things as he prepares for his Wimbledon semi-final against Rafa Nadal on Friday with a host nation's hopes of a long-overdue men's champion resting squarely on his shoulders.
The 24-year-old has been imperious in his last two rounds against Richard Gasquet and Feliciano Lopez while champion Nadal's progress has been anything but stress-free, with worries over a foot injury that will need a pain-killing jab.Waiting for the winner of the eagerly-anticipated repeat of last year's semi-final will be Serbia's Novak Djokovic or French heavyweight Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who shattered Roger Federer's hopes on Wednesday.
While Tsonga's extraordinary comeback means the expected showdown between the world's top four did not materialise as it did at the French Open, the semi-final lineup is still worthy of the 125th championships.
Murray, bidding to become the first British man to win Wimbledon for 75 years, looks comfortable in his role now and there was a relaxed air about the Scot after he finished off Lopez with three consecutive aces.
While he has lost 11 of his previous 15 meetings with Nadal, most recently in the semis at Roland Garros, Murray believes he is ready to inflict a first Wimbledon defeat on the Spanish powerhouse since 2007 -- a winning run interrupted only by Nadal's dodgy knees in 2009.
"I believe I can win against him. I had chances last year," Murray told reporters looking ahead to his third consecutive Wimbledon semi-final.
"I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience. I just have to go out there and play well and serve well and believe and I'll have a chance."
If it was not a grand slam, Nadal would probably be home fishing in Mallorca and resting the foot he injured in his energy-sapping last-16 match against Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.
While scans have shown there is nothing seriously wrong with the foot, Nadal is clearly worried enough to require it to be "put to sleep" during his matches.
The 25-year-old baseline warrior was not at his best against Mardy Fish in the quarter-finals but with just two matches left before a well-earned month off, the French Open champion will be fighting his corner with his usual ferocity.
"For me it is the last tournament in one month, so I have to try my best," Nadal said. "It's always for me a dream to play here in Wimbledon.
"Last year I beat Andy here in the semi-finals, but it was a very close match, even if it was in straight sets. For sure I always enjoy playing these kind of matches."