Murray and Federer battle through to semi-finals
Drama on Centre Court as the two former champions are held to five-set thrillers
Centre Court was treated to two matches of magnificence on Wednesday afternoon as the men battled it out for a spot in the semi-final.
The afternoon began with Roger Federer striding onto the hallowed turf of the All-England club to play Croatia's Marin Cilic.
For a while, it looked as if the 34-year-old player was going to be ignominiously dumped out of the tournament he has won seven times in straight sets. The Swiss legend had no answer to Cilic's clinical power game, losing the first two sets 7-6, 6-4. But by then he had his opponent's range and he took the next three sets to the sound of Centre Crowd roaring him on.
The fans didn't have long to regain their breath. As Federer went off to rest before Friday's semi-final against Milos Raonic - who defeated Sam Querrey, conqueror of Novak Djokovic, on Court One - Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga appeared for their quarter-final.
Surely the pair couldn't surpass the drama of the previous three and a half hours? The first set lived up to the hope, with Murray winning the tie-break 12-10 after 77 minutes of pulsating tennis.
The Frenchman put up little resistance in the second set, however, losing it 6-1 in 25 minutes.
The crowd assumed the third would be a formality, but Tsonga suddenly transformed into the aggressive and energetic player he can be and broke Murray once in both the third and fourth sets to level the match at two sets apiece.
Murray began to shout - at himself, the referee and, at the start of the fifth, his team, looking on from the stand.
"There is no way I am going to lose this match," he yelled at them, after taking the first game of the decisive fifth set.
He didn't, neither, the Scot's stinging fore and backhands too much for the tiring Tsonga.
Murray eventually served out to win the match after 3 hours and 54 minutes of scintillating tennis. "I just tried to use all of my energy at the start of the fifth set to get myself up," he said. "And to try and get the crowd pumped up – it's been a long day for them, some long matches – and thankfully got the early break and managed to hang on it."
The world No2 was quick to pay tribute to his opponent, who played his part in probably the best match of Wimbledon 2016. "He played extremely well," said Murray. "That first set was a tough one for him to lose and I ran away with the second. But he fought right until the end and it was a great match."
Like Federer, Murray will spend Thursday recuperating ahead of Friday's semi-final. His opponent will be Czech tenth seed Tomas Berdych, who eased past Lucas Pouille of France 7-6, 6-3 6-2. The pair have played each other 14 times previously in all tournaments, with Murray victorious in eight encounters.