>Rafael Nadal has defeated Andy Murray to book a place in his fourth Wimbledon final in a row, with the chance to reclaim his title and win the Roland Garros and Wimbledon titles back to back. Nadal beat Murray 6-4, 7-6, 6-4 after 2 hours and 21 minutes of play.
Rafael entered the match desperate to make it to the finals and reclaim his crown after being unable to attempt a title defense last year. Nadal’s hunger to reclaim the title was just as well known as Murray’s desire, and the UK’s, to claim his first Grand Slam. The players stepped out on court in front of members of the royal family, Orlando Bloom and David Beckham.
Andy Murray came out playing aggressively immediately, serving in a dominant fashion and winning his service games more easily than his Spanish opponent. Both players produced some incredible shots form all positions in the court, Nadal coming up with a brilliant backwards smash that wasn’t quite enough to win him the point.
With his family, uncles and girlfriend Xisca Perello in his box, Nadal threw a crushing forehand winner across the net after being gifted a double fault, bringing up the first break point of the match. A forehand pushed wide by the Scot allowed the Spaniard to draw first blood and serve for the set. Murray thumped his thigh in disgust.
The second set started in a similar fashion, with both players holding serve confidently, however, slowly Murray started to play some more volleys to try and keep Nadal out of the points. Murray had chances in the fourth game but Nadal’s defenses were too great and the Spaniard held to level at two all. Nadal was in trouble on the very next service game after a few errors but managed to sprint to a drop shot after a stumble and was luck when Murray’s lob went just long. After another error a huge spinning forehand down the line gave him another game point. Nadal held at three all but Murray was starting to ask some serious questions, particularly when at the net.
Again Nadal was in trouble and a beautiful defensive lob gave Murray two break points as the crowd went wild. Nadal saved one with a big serve but you got the distinct feeling Murray was going to break but Nadal was too offensive at important moments, tidying up his unforced error count. Nadal eventually held but Murray was getting closer to breaking the world number one each time Rafa served , meanwhile the home crowd favourite held easily with each passing service game.
Murray’s team, including girlfriend Kim Sears, tried to push their man across the line in the second set tiebreak, his tension palpable. Murray hit himself in the head with a clenched fist after giving away the early mini break, rebounding with a forehand winner to go ahead 3-2. Nadal served a critical double fault to give Murray set point after missing numerous first serves. Nadal saved the set with an incredible volley cross court. A let cord on a cross court passing shot from Nadal sailed just past Murray as he waited for the cross court shot landed in giving Nadal set point.
Rafa and his forehand needed just one set point, Murray bouncing his racket into the dirt where grass used to be. While Murray had been dominating the second set and was ahead statistically, Rafa’s forehand at big moments was devastating and when drawn to the net he was incredibly effective, winning 12 of 13 points at the net.
Nadal opened proceedings in the third set and quickly handed over three errors for triple break point, only one of which Murray needed as Rafa pushed another forehand wide after a sloppy game. After being broken to love, Rafa then held twice to love on his next service game, his focus back.
Xisca and Rafa’s sister were up on their feet when Nadal broke Murray to get things back on serve at 4-4 as Andy’s first serve percentage plummeted. A focused Nadal broke Murray in the final game of the match.
After the match Rafa said “To beat Andy you have to play your best tennis. Always is a very tough match…. I think he deserves to win a Grand Slam.”
Rafa will face Tomas Berdych in the finals for a chance to win his second Wimbledon title and his 8th Grand Slam over all. Rafa leads their head to head match up 7-3. Berdych last beat Rafa back in 2006. It will be Berdych’s first Grand Slam final and Nadal’s 10th.
My pick… Nadal in four sets.