Nadal inflicts another Murray heartbreak
Originally published on: 01/07/11 19:53
Rafael Nadal progressed to his fifth Wimbledon final after recovering from the loss of the first set to end Andy Murray’s latest Grand Slam dream.
The Spaniard prevailed 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4 to set a final between the top two players in the world and condemn the Scot to another heartbreaking exit.
“I have to play very well to beat Andy, and I did today,” said Nadal. “He was playing fantastic at the beginning. He had a mistake at the beginning, probably that was one of the turning points of the match.”
Murray got off to the quicker start, going toe-to-toe with his 25-year-old opponent before seizing his opportunity to break after Nadal handed him three set points in the 11th game with a skewed lob into the tramlines after aggressive early pressure from the Scot. World No.1 this morning, but now world No.2 after Novak Djokovic assumed his place at the top of the tree with victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga earlier in the day, Nadal saved the first, but saw Centre Court erupt around him when he found the net tape on the second to hand over the opening set in 54 minutes.
Aided by six aces and winning 83% of points on his first serve, it marked the first time in his three appearances in a Wimbledon semi-final that Murray had won the first set. However, rather than carry any momentum into the second, the Scot shanked a very makeable forehand drive long to miss out on two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Perhaps with the missed opportunity still on his mind, the world No.4 was broken to fall 2-3 behind when he miscued a smash that flew wildly past the baseline. Murray remained in a funk as Nadal reeled off four games in a row for a second break, before seeing out the set.
The three-time Grand Slam finalist’s slump continued in the third set as he fell to a third successive break after flinging an inside out forehand beyond the baseline as Nadal hit back from dropping the first set to move into the ascendancy. A fourth break was enough to see Nadal through the third and when he went up another break early in the fourth, the match appeared to be slipping away from the boy from Dunblane.
With Murray continuing to struggle on serve and falling to another break in the fourth, he set out on the attack again, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the Spaniard in the hope of a break back. But the defending champion, undefeated at Wimbledon since 2007, battened down the hatches and grittily rode out the set, sealing it with a ripped inside out forehand, for a spot in his fifth successive Wimbledon final.
“It’s a dream to be back in the final,” added 10-time Grand Slam champion Nadal. “Seriously I feel sad for Andy. He deserves this final. It’s tough for him.”