LONDON — They sighed when Andy Murray faulted.
They stood and roared when he hit winners.
And when Murray dropped the first two sets of his Wimbledon quarterfinal Wednesday, the 15,000 Centre Court spectators were so silent that birds could be heard chirping.
By the time his five-set comeback was nearly complete, more than two hours later, the fans were greeting each point that went Murray’s way with celebrations of the sort normally reserved for a championship.
It’s been 77 years since a British man won the country’s Grand Slam tennis tournament, and thanks to the second-seeded Murray’s 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-5 victory over 54th-ranked Fernando Verdasco, the locals can hold out hope the wait will end Sunday.
First things first, of course. Murray, who is from Scotland, will play in the semifinals at the All England Club for the fifth consecutive year Friday, facing No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz of Poland. The other semifinal is No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia against No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina.
There is no doubt who will be the recipient of the most boisterous support.
“Great atmosphere at the end of the match. … I love it when it’s like that. It was extremely noisy,” said Murray, who lost last year’s Wimbledon final to Roger Federer. “They were right into it, pretty much every single point.”
The other quarterfinals lasted a mere three sets each and the most compelling segments came at the very beginning of del Potro’s 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win against No. 4 David Ferrer, and the very end of Janowicz’s 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 victory over 130th-ranked Lukasz Kubot in the first Grand Slam match between two men from Poland.
Janowicz, 22, reached his first major semifinal — the first for a man from his country — by pounding serves at a tournament-high 140 mph, compiling 30 aces, and saving all six break points he faced. When it finished, Kubot walked around the net to Janowicz’s side of the court and the pair of Davis Cup teammates and good pals enveloped each other in an embrace. Then they yanked their white shirts off and exchanged them, the way soccer players trade jerseys after games. Janowicz then sat in his sideline chair, covered his face and sobbed.
“It’s not easy to control all of the feelings inside my body,” he said. “I was never in (a major) quarterfinal before. I never had a chance to be in (the) semifinal of a Grand Slam.”
Djokovic also won all 15 sets he’s played, including in a 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-3 victory over No. 7 Tomas Berdych to reach a 13th consecutive Grand Slam semifinal, the second-longest streak in men’s tennis history behind Federer’s 23.