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Murray set for heroic, historic final

LONDON--Andy Murray will attempt to become the first British man to win Wimbledon in 76 years when the home favorite faces six-time champion Roger Federer in an historic final on Sunday.

Murray's 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 semifinal victory over French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Friday made him Britain's first male Wimbledon finalist since Bunny Austin in 1938.

But the 25-year-old will surpass even that impressive feat if he beats Federer and emulates the legendary Fred Perry, who was the last British man to win Wimbledon when he defeated Gottfried von Cramm in 1936.

Murray's meeting with Federer will be the Scot's fourth attempt to win a Grand Slam final following defeats at the 2008 U.S. Open and Australian Open in 2010 and 2011.

The world number four, deploying his trademark counter-punching game to devastating effect, looked set to coast into the final as he swept through the first two sets.

But a rare lapse of concentration presented Tsonga with a lifeline and the Frenchman, also a beaten Wimbledon semifinalist last year, broke to take the third set.

Yet Murray showed nerves of steel to save two break points at 4-4 in the fourth set before producing a stunning shot on match point that was initially called out and then corrected to a winner when the Scot challenged successfully.

“It's tough to explain (how it feels). It's a bit of relief and excitement,” said Murray who appeared close to tears as he celebrated on court.

“I started the match really well but one loose game let him back in. It was so close in the last two sets.

“He was hitting some unbelievable winners and had break points at 4-4, but I managed to hang tough there and win it. It was an emotional end to the match.”

While Murray has history as his motivation, Federer won't be short of incentive either after the Swiss great reached a record eighth Wimbledon final with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win against Novak Djokovic.

Victory over Murray will take Federer level with Pete Sampras's record of seven Wimbledon wins, allow him to reclaim the world number one ranking and clinch a 17th career Grand Slam crown.

After hearing the critics decry him as a fading force for much of the last two years, Federer delivered an emphatic response by dethroning reigning champion Djokovic.

Federer won the last of his Wimbledon crowns in 2009 and the 30-year-old has been waiting to add to his Grand Slam title collection since lifting the Australian Open trophy in 2010.

But on the evidence of his ruthless performance against world number one Djokovic under the Centre Court roof, there is still plenty of life in Federer yet.

Djokovic, who was bidding to reach a fifth successive Grand Slam final, had defeated Federer six times in their last seven meetings.

Yet it was Federer who called the tune in his 32nd Grand Slam semifinal.

“I'm ecstatic. I played a great match today. Novak played great in the first two sets too, but the third set was key,” Federer said.

“I stepped it up then. He had a break point in the ninth game of the third set. It was a tough match.”

After so much criticism of late, Federer was delighted to be back in the final, having lost in the quarterfinals to Tomas Berdych in 2010 and Tsonga last year.

“It was a shock for some people when I lost to Berdych, but not for me. They said 'How are we going to survive a Wimbledon final without you?'

“I just went on vacation and prepared for my next tournaments.”

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Andy Murray, of Britain, reacts after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, of France, during a semifinals match at the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, England on Friday, July 6.

(AP)

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