Saturday, 27 November 2010
Rafael Nadal into the World Tour Final
The Scot started well as he fired down seven aces in his opening four service games of the first set, losing only four points in the process. Having a chance in a Nadal service game was a different challenge altogether, but Murray was certainly making the world No1 work to stay on level terms.
Neither player was prepared to give an inch and, momentary confusion about the score in the ninth game aside, the set proceeded smoothly all the way to the tie-break.
The quality from both players was extremely high but it was Nadal who made the first move, exploiting a short Murray forehand to take a 3-1 lead.
The Scot was not finished, though, and he retrieved the mini-break with a backhand volley winner at the end of a titanic rally to make it 5-5.
Nadal composed himself to engineer the first set point, and he took it with a sublime volley despite the best efforts of Murray, who really had played a terrific set.
A good start to the second set was vital for Murray, who had never previously come from a set down to beat Nadal, but instead his level dropped and he found himself facing two break points – the first of the match.
Now was the time for the Scot to show his fighting spirit, and he did, with a brave second serve saving one before a backhand winner took care of the second.
The crowd sensed that could prove a big moment, and Murray got to 15-30 for only the second time in the match in the third game, but again Nadal was rock-solid.
The Spaniard was troubling Murray continually with serves into the fifth seed's body, and his frustration was evident as he searched for a way through.
But this was not the Murray who sometimes allows his negative emotions to take over, he was focused and determined, and in the seventh game he got his chance.
A gift from Nadal was followed by two terrific points from the home hope to take him to 0-40. But the bigger the moment, the better the Spaniard plays.
An unbelievable forehand flick off a decent Murray drop shot saved the first break point, and the Spaniard was just too good on the remaining ones as well.
It was not over, though. Nadal overcooked a backhand to give Murray a third chance, and this time he took it, leaving his opponent standing with a searing cross-court backhand.
The crowd had been split at the start but there was no doubt who they were supporting now, and suddenly it was Nadal who looked rattled and a little flat-footed.
Serving to stay in the set at 3-5, the Spaniard was left helpless as Murray blasted his way to 15-40 and then drilled a backhand winner cross-court to level the match.
But it was in a dramatic third set that the Spaniard broke through to the final. In an exciting match-winning tie break, Nadal beat Murray who appeared to have suffered a late injury.