Rafa Nadal beat Andy Murray in straight sets in a compelling, hard fought semi final at the French Open. The Roland Garros crowd were treated to some brilliant tennis as Nadal overcame the Scot in three hours and 17 minutes.
The match was easily one of the toughest straight set victories of Nadal’s career. Murray played brilliantly, but the difference between the players was key points. Murray regularly forced break opportunities, but the Scot could not capitalise. Whenever Nadal needed a crucial point to hold serve or break Murray, the Spaniard responded with some great play and sensational shots. Murray forced 18 break points in all over the three sets, but could only take three of them.
Murray started with great purpose, bossing play in the opening game. Nadal responded immediately, however, breaking Murray twice en route to a 5-1 lead. To Murray’s credit, he fought back well. In the eighth game he won a long point to break Nadal and held in the following game to cut the deficit to 5-4. Nadal was left to serve for the set and rushed out to a 40-15 lead. Murray battled back to create two break points, but Nadal produced an exquisite serve volley when he most needed it to claim the first set 6-4 in 62 minutes.
The dramatic swings continued in the second set, which ran to a mammoth 73 minutes. Murray had two break points in the second game, but both players managed to hold serve to leave the score at 2-2. The crowd were then treated to a run of four breaks in succession.
Murray played poorly in the fifth game and Nadal pounced to break the Scot. Murray again showed his resilience to produce two break points, sealing a break of serve after a surprising Nadal double fault.
Nadal was immediately on the offensive again in the following game. Murray saved a couple of break points with some energetic defensive play and a monstrous ace, but Nadal produced a couple of incredible points to take a 4-3 lead. Murray, however, continued his fine form and broke again in the eighth game.
The match appeared to be finely balanced, but Nadal showed his class in the 11th game of the set. Murray saved one break point after volleying a superb Nadal cross court shot at full stretch. The respite was short lived and Nadal claimed the break two shots later. The Spaniard held his serve to love to take a 2-0 lead.
Murray was unlucky to find himself in a two set deficit after producing some of his best tennis, but the situation looked ominous for the Scot. Nadal took advantage of his momentum by breaking Murray in the first game on the third set. Murray continued to press and forced multiple break points during the set but could not capitalise. Nadal held serve to win the third set and secure a tight 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 victory.
Nadal will face the winner of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, who the Spaniard called the greatest of all time and the current best player in the world respectively.