Andy Murray vs. Rafael Nadal
This year’s Australian Open and French Open had one semifinal matchup of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray. The third Grand Slam offers the same stirring bout in the semifinals with hometown hero (4) Murray of Scotland going up against (1) Nadal of Spain.
The Spaniard beat the Scot 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in Paris while falling in Melbourne 6-3, 7-6(2), 3-0 retirement. It’s very rare that Nadal retires in a match. Down Under the Spaniard said “No Mas” with a lingering knee injury worsening from the start of the match. However in France both finished the match a few weeks after Rafa beat Andy 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 on clay.
The battles have been largely dominated by Nadal with Murray only taking wins five times, once in straight sets. The Spaniard has shaken the Scot eight of his 11 wins without dropping a set. So the first set could be monstrous. At the 2007 Aussie Open during their first ever matchup in the fourth round, Murray won the first set in a tiebreaker but came up short 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 1-6.
In what figured to be an epic rivalry was all Nadal the next four clashes including a sweep at the 2008 Wimbledon Quarterfinals 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard won 11 straight sets, three coming in tiebreaks, since falling down two sets to one in Melbourne. It wasn’t until the 2008 United States Open Semifinals that the Scot won a set again taking the match in four sets including one coming in a breaker.
Murray took that momentum to win in Rotterdam before Nadal won twice more again. In short the Spaniard has won 28 of the 42 sets. Nine tiebreakers have been played with Nadal nabbing six. In their head-to-head at Slams Murray is 2-5. All of Great Britain wanted him to win in 2008 during a quarters meeting on the London lawn and even had more hopes last year at the All England Club Semis with the Spaniard advancing 6-4, 7-6(6), 6-4.
With Nadal’s body giving him problems again, the 2008 and 2010 Wimbledon Champion may have his most difficult match against the Scot tomorrow on grass. The Spaniard overcame left foot issues to beat (24) Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(6), 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. Despite fighting pain in his hurting foot, Nadal whaled 61 winners and only 16 unforced errors against the Argentine.
Murray’s Round-of-16 clash was a thing of beauty too whipping 44 winners to 10 unforced errors. The Scot followed the 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2 demolision of Frenchman (17) Richard Gasquet with an even more impressive drubbing of Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Cracking 40 winners to only 11 unforced errors, Murray slapped balls at and past Lopez at the net who was just 31-of-50.
The Spaniard doesn’t come in much, but has made the most of his ventures forward this fortnight with grave success. Against American (10) Mardy Fish, Nadal knocked around 43 winners to 13 unforced errors and won 21-of-27 points at the net. With his serving not at its peak, if the Spaniard isn’t able to serve at an optimum performance against arguably the best returner in the men’s game beating the Scot for the third time at Wimbledon will not happen. I’m taking Murray in the upset.
Andy Murray +165