Superb Murray into Olympic tennis final
Andy Murray produced a supreme performance to defeat Novak Djokovic 7-5 7-5 in straight sets and secure a Wimbledon rematch against Roger Federer for Olympic gold at the All England Club.
With news of British golds in track cycling filtering through the atmosphere inside the normally reserved citadel of tennis was raucous with fans chanting "GB" and "Murray" while waving plastic Union Jacks.
Murray fed off the energy inside the arena, producing a scintillating display of shot-making to leave Djokovic facing a scrap with Juan Martin del Potro for a bronze medal.
He fended off everything Djokovic could throw at him in the depths of the second set, then pounced when the Serb served to stay in the match at 5-6, claiming victory with a dipping backhand that his opponent bundled into the net.
Murray, who shed tears when losing to Federer last month in his first Wimbledon final, celebrated by leaping around Centre Court, pumping his fists to the delirious army of fans.
"That atmosphere was unbelievable, I've not played in anything close to that before," he said.
"This was the most emotional I've been after a match, I was so happy to win. You don't see me smiling that much normally, I haven't stopped smiling since I came off the court.
"If you asked me before the tournament, I would have said the a Grand Slam is the most important thing to do in your tennis career but within sport, a gold medal is the pinnacle. Everyone understands what a gold medal is.
"After what I experienced here winning gold would be right up there with anything else that I could achieve in tennis.
"Obviously I've never won a Slam before but I've never won a gold either. But winning a silver medal at least feels really good. And losing in the final of a Grand Slam felt terrible."
Djokovic insisted he would lift himself for the bronze medal match and believed home advantage was crucial for Murray's success.
"He played better in the important moments and he was the better player," he said."I experienced many great atmospheres but this was one of the best. That's why team competitions, competitions where you represent your country, not yourself, are very exciting for us players to be part of.
"I expected the crowd to be for Andy and they gave him plenty of support and positive energy. He managed to use that in his favour to win the match."
But elation for Murray was soon tempered by the thought of who lies in wait, in a match that will be decided over the best of five sets.
However, world number one Federer was pushed the distance in his semi-final by Juan Martin del Potro in a match that lasted four hours and 26 minutes, the longest three-set singles match in the Open era.
"I was very tense at certain times," admitted Federer. "I was seeing myself as a loser many times during the match.
"Andy will be a tough opponent, he's one of the best players on the tour and there is never a guarantee.
"I know the support he gets at Wimbledon but I've been able to handle that. I don't know how much a crowd plays in the outcome of a match anyway but it should be a great game."
But the Olympics singles title - he won doubles gold with Stanislas Wawrinka in Beijing - is the only major title missing from his collection and winning at Wimbledon is a key ambition that will ease the pain of aching limbs.
While Murray insists revenge for his Wimbledon defeat won't be a factor either.
"I don't think going into matches trying to get revenge for something that's happened in the past really helps," added Murray.
“He's not played for the gold medal in singles before, and most times when I played him, he's experienced the situations way, way more times than me. He probably played eight Wimbledon finals or something like that. For me, it was my first one.
"It's so rare for him to be in a position where he's trying to do something new because he's achieved so much in tennis. I hope that will even things out a little bit because being in this position is new for both of us."