AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
LONDON: Newspapers breathed a sigh of relief Saturday and hailed Andy Murray for becoming the first homegrown player to reach the Wimbledon men's tennis final in 74 years.
Murray ended Britain's long wait for a male Wimbledon finalist on Friday as the world number four clinched a 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 semi-final victory over French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
"And finally", said the front page of The Times, which called the Scot "Magnificent Murray", and said his achievement after so long was "immense".
Murray's triumph consigned a miserable run of 11 semi-final failures by British men to the history books and emulated the achievement of Bunny Austin, the last home challenger to reach the Wimbledon men's final back in 1938.
"Even to make the Wimbledon final, in an era graced by some of the greatest players ever, is a feat worthy of congratulation," its editorial said.
"There remains the small matter of actually beating perhaps the world's greatest ever player, Roger Federer, whose own superb effort in reaching a record eighth final should not be forgotten either.
"But good luck on Sunday, Andy. One huge obstacle cleared. Just one even bigger one still to go."
"Now can he finish the job?" asked the Daily Mail.
"Oh, the ecstasy. Andy Murray has done it. Finally. At last."
The Daily Telegraph said Murray had to overcome both Federer "and the burden of expectation".
Murray has broken "one of the oldest curses in sport", the broadsheet said.
"The man from Dunblane is unarguably the best player these islands have produced for many a long year -- and if he does triumph, his status as a national icon will be more than assured."
The 25-year-old had lost at the semi-final stage for the last three years, joining Tim Henman, Roger Taylor and Mike Sangster on the list of British near-misses at the All England Club.
But decades of anguish faded from view in front of a jubiliant Centre Court crowd as Murray booked a showdown with six-time champion Roger Federer in Sunday's final.
While Murray's victory has put one ghost to rest, the Scot won't be truly satisfied until he has become the first British man to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936.
Murray's meeting with Federer will be the Scot's fourth attempt to win a Grand Slam final following defeats at the Australian Open in 2010 and 2011 and the 2008 US Open.
"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.
"I tried to stay calm, but it's not easy. There's a lot of pressure and stress but you need to just focus on the next point and not think about what happened in the past.
"It was an emotional end to the match. I've just got to keep it together for the final. It will be one of the biggest matches of my life."
Tsonga believes Murray may struggle to recover physically in time for the final.
"Andy looked pretty tired at the end and it'll be tough to recover against Roger, but I hope he does," said the Frenchman.
"I am proud of what I have done here. I fought but I lost. Hopefully, I can do better next time."
After surviving a gruelling examination against David Ferrer in the last eight, Murray was battle-hardened and playing with the kind of focused determination he has lacked in the past.
Even so the weight of expectation on Murray could have proved crippling. Yet he showed nerves of steel to emerge victorious from two hours and 47 minutes of high drama.
Murray, who had won five of his six meetings with Tsonga, has often been criticised for his grumpy on-court demeanour but he looked totally at ease as he broke Tsonga in his first service game.
The Guardian said Murray was "one step from heaven" following his last four victory, sealed with a disputed line call.
"When the ending came it was as farcical as it was cathartic. But once Hawk-Eye had confirmed that andy Murray had bucked 74 years of history, the Centre Court crowd roared their acclaim," the daily said.
"At times during the fourth set of this semi-final, it had been very different as the ghosts of past British failures at this stage began to stalk their thoughts as they murmured and muttered beneath darkening skies. But Murray held his nerve better than those watching."
The Sun wished Murray good luck in the final, and urged him to enjoy himself if he did following he tears of his semi-final victory.
"In this diamond jubilee year, a British triumph would be perfect.
"And remember: if you do win, smile!"