When Jerzy Janowicz, then ranked No.221 in the world, was knocked out of the quarter-finals of a Futures tournament in Sheffield in January 2012, he could never have imagined that 18 months later he would be taking to Centre Court to play a Wimbledon semi-final against Andy Murray.
Janowicz may have lost but he did not look out of place. In just his fifth Grand Slam main draw appearance, this was his first semi-final. On the evidence of his run here, there will be more to come for the 22-year-old.
Currently sitting at No.22 in the rankings, Janowicz is projected to rise to No.17 on Monday. He will be the first Polish male to enter the top 20 since former Wimbledon quarter-finalist Wojtek Fibak in 1983.
Less than four weeks ago, Janowicz was beaten by world No.220 Mirza Basic in the first round on the grass of Halle. The disappointment at his Wimbledon loss may still be raw but in time he will surely appreciate the scale of his achievement.
“I get a lot of experience after this match,” said Janowicz. “I didn't expect before the tournament that I'm going to be able to go to the semi-final. I'm still quite a young player. I have a lot of time. I will just keep on practising and I hope I will have a chance to be in the semi-final of Wimbledon again.”
Janowicz is clearly not fazed by the big occasion. You would expect such an inexperienced player to feel a bit tight at the start of a match of this scale. Instead, he had the spectators behind the baseline ducking for cover with ferocious serving at speeds of more than 140mph.
Murray had warned before that Janowicz was not just a big hitter and so it proved. His touch on the drop shot was impressive which often Murray was unable to chase down, a rare sight for those who have watched the world No.2 in recent years.
What let Janowicz down was his loss of focus in the third set. Constantly complaining to the umpire about the fading light and asking at every changeover when the roof was going to be closed did not help his cause. Although he had a 4-1 lead in the third set, Murray sensed his opponent’s frustration and pounced.
The game changer came with Janowicz leading 4-2, 30-30. Murray benefited from a fortunate net cord to set up a break point, which he took. Janowicz could not let this bit of bad fortune out of his mind.
Janowicz had an opportunity to refocus during the 30-minute break while the roof was shut but he failed to do so. He hit four double faults in the fourth set, two of them coming in the final game.
“I'm a little bit disappointed,” said Janowicz. “Today I didn't play my best tennis. I think this was my second worst match during this tournament. Such a shame I didn't play my best tennis today. I was struggling a little bit with my serve. Everything basically collapsed after this one point when he [hit] the tape. The ball just rolled over.”
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