Murray vs. Nadal – Wimbledon Semi-Final 2011

Posted on July 4, 2011

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words by Robert Pollard

Andy Murray exited Wimbledon at the semi-final stage for the third year running after a 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4 defeat to defending champion Rafael Nadal. It was a bitterly disappointing performance from Murray who looked in control early in the match before capitulating badly, allowing Nadal to seize the initiative and take his place in Sunday’s final where he will play Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

Murray gave everything in his quest to become the first British winner of Wimbledon since Fred Perry but ultimately he lacked the ability to overcome one of the all-time greats. It is a difficult pill to swallow for a player who has displayed such fine form throughout the grass court season but he must accept that improvements in his game need to be made if he is to fully realise his potential and become a player who can win the biggest prizes in tennis.

Murray started brilliantly and looked capable of winning the match, serving superbly and striking the ball well from the back of the court. He deservedly took the opening set 7-5 and had a chance to bring up two break points at 2-1 in the second but he blazed his forehand long. That point signaled a dramatic shift in momentum as Nadal began to dictate, winning 7 straight games. Murray’s first serve percentage slipped, allowing Nadal to attack his serve much more readily than in the first set, and he made way too many unforced errors, racking up 39 by the end of the match. Errors of that magnitude would make life difficult against almost any player inside the top 100 never mind the exceptional Spaniard.

“I was playing very high-risk tennis for most of the match. Maybe I got the balance wrong,” said Murray, acknowledging his high error count.

“But you need to try to find a way. Each time you play against one of the best you need to play differently.”

Nadal is the benchmark which Murray must now work towards. The Majorcan displayed his usual tenacity, covering the court with his wasp-like movement, relentlessly chasing down every ball and draining his opponent in the process. He remains focused at all times, meaning his high level rarely dips and if Murray can achieve that same level of focus, he will rack up Grand Slam titles. He is undoubtedly an excellent player but he cannot be considered a great until he begins to challenge the very best with more consistency. After his stunning performances at Queen’s, and then in the earlier rounds here at Wimbledon, he entered this match in great form and confident mood but Nadal’s tigerish spirit and powerful play proved to be too much.

The disappointment for Murray was evident at the end of the match but he must take heart from the way he has played at the Grand Slam events in 2011. His run at the Australian Open was exhilarating, before his defeat to the resurgent Djokovic in the final, and his semi-final appearance in Paris was his best ever performance at the French Open. There is no doubting his talent but he must now find something extra if he is to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam since 1936.

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Posted in: Tennis