Rafael Nadal beat Andy Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon final. Britain’s wait for a male champion will now move beyond 75 years, while Nadal has now won 20 straight matches at SW19.
The two players were impressive on their serve throughout the first set, with neither player managing a break point in the opening eleven games. Murray finally made a breakthrough in the 12th game after a failed Nadal lob gave Murray three break points. On the second break point, a terrific Murray return forced Nadal to hit the ball into the net.
The key for Murray in the first set was his return, with the Scot managing to successfully return 90% of Nadal’s serves. The only worrying moment for Murray came when he called for the physio after the third game. Murray had entered the match with a hip flexer problem, but luckily for the Scot, the pain dissipated and he was able to play on without much difficulty.
The turning point in the match came in the fourth game of the second set. Murray had an easy forehand to take a 15-40 lead on the Nadal serve, but the Scot inexplicably hit the ball long, allowing Nadal to regroup and hold his serve. Murray then produced his first poor service game, ultimately hitting a double fault to gift Nadal his first break of the match.
Murray’s form suddenly collapsed dramatically and Nadal took control of the match, winning seven games in a row. Nadal broke Murray again in the seventh game and held to take the second set. The Spaniard was refusing to make any mistakes and was starting to click into gear.
Nadal drove home his advantage by breaking Murray in the first game of the third set. Murray managed to recover from 15-40 down, but Nadal finally clinched the break of serve at his third attempt.
Murray held to love in the third game as he started to rediscover some of his earlier form, but he could not make any inroads on Nadal’s serve. The Spaniard then broke Murray again in the seventh game of the set, producing a superb forehand passing shot to win the game. Nadal served out to take a deserved two sets to one lead.
The Spaniard’s serving was imperious in the third set, as he succeeded with 76 per cent of his first serves. Murray, conversely, only managed to connect on 48 per cent of his first serves.
Murray was on the ropes and Nadal was showing no signs of slowing down. The world number one broke Murray in the first game of the fourth set. At 15-40, Nadal somehow won a point that Murray dominated after some impressive defensive work. A poor Murray forehand sealed the break for Nadal.
Both players were producing some terrific tennis, with superlative passing shots being the order of the day. Murray could not, however, convert any of his opportunities.
The Scot’s big chance came in the fourth game, which lasted nine minutes. Murray engineered two break points, but Nadal played two perfect points to deny the Scot.
Murray, to his credit, did not throw in the towel. He saved a Nadal match point with an ace on the ninth game. The Scot also produced a stunning shot to save another match point when Nadal was serving for the match in the 10th game. Nadal, however, was in superb form. The Spaniard only dropped one point in his final two service games as he claimed victory and stayed on course for a third Wimbledon title.
Nadal will face Novak Djokovic in the final on Sunday, with the Serb certain to take the Spaniard’s place as world number one regardless of the outcome. The match promises to be a classic, with both players able to produce incredible defensive play and superlative ground strokes.