The second of Friday’s men’s Semi-Finals at Wimbledon sees Jerzy Janowicz take on home favourite Andy Murray. While the quest for a British winner at SW19 is an annually compelling story, Al Dannity says Janowicz’s tale is a more interesting talking point.
It’s been quite the 18 months for Jerzy Janowicz. Before the Australian Open in 2012, Janowicz tried to travel for the qualifiers. Unfortunately he couldn’t afford it. Without funding from the Polish governing body, Janowicz’s career was self-financed and a trip across the world to Melbourne was a non-runner. Instead he had to claw and fight his way back in Europe on the Challenger and Futures circuits. Meanwhile Murray made it to the Semi-Finals, a step down from his back-to-back appearances in the Australian Open Final but still far better than anything the Pole had achieved.
Murray had a disappointing French Open in 2012, losing at the Quarter Final stage. Janowicz didn’t even make it to Paris, going out in the qualifying rounds. Then things started to turn for both players. Janowicz finally made his breakthrough at a major, qualifying for Wimbledon and reaching the third round. Murray made his first ever Wimbledon Final and picked up Olympic singles gold and doubles silver at the same venue a few weeks later. Janowicz made the main draw at the 2012 US Open, another step forward. Murray won his first every grand slam title at the same event. The big move for Janowicz came away from the majors. At the Paris Masters he reached his first ever ATP Final. Since that loss to Ferrer, the Pole has rocketed up the rankings.
This past January Janowicz finally made it to Melbourne and hung around until the third round. He matched that feat at his first ever French Open. By this stage the 2012 qualifier was guaranteed to be seeded for Wimbledon in 2013. His first outing on grass this year however was a defeat to Mirza Basic in the first round at Halle. The fairy tale may have been building but the signs for a deep run weren’t obvious. Then of course we get to the past fortnight of madness at SW19. Janowicz has ridden the wave of upsets all the way to the Semi Finals. His win over countryman Lukas Kubot was as emotional a finish to a Quarter Final as we are likely to see for some time. The players embraced and swapped shirts.
Can the dream continue? Yes but not today. Friday is one of redemption for Murray. After a sluggish showing against Fernando Verdasco, the Scotsman will bring his A-game to Centre Court. Just don’t get too comfortable Mr Murray. There’s a hungry Pole who is clawing his way to the top. You might see him again in Flushing Meadows.