July 4, 2010
Whilst England World Cup’s team had been a major disappointment to millions, many have the hopes set on Murray as he faces Nadal in the Semi-Final to become the first British finalist at Wimbledon since 1938, and as I’m working at this years championships I’m lucky enough to see it unfold in front of my very eyes on Centre Court.
I’ve got my hopes up too on the Scot. Murray in my opinion has been on excellent form, playing some scintillating tennis and having not dropped a set in the previous three rounds, I’m confident this will be a good match. So, with Murray on the verge of the Wimbledon final and me on the verge of my seat, the match begins.
In front of a packed crowd, including the likes of David Beckham all of whom were clearly rooting for the Scot, illustrated by motivational chants of, “Do it for Becks, Andy!”, Murray bellowed, “Come on” after securing the opening point of the match, nailing Nadal with a service winner. Nadal’s forehand is looking ominously good though, catching Murray off-balance with a brutal baseline shot. Murray continued a solid first serve percentage, averaging 73% on target, only dropping four points in his first four service games. However, Nadal was lurking to strike with his formidable left-handed forehand as soon as the slightest opening arose, which happened in the ninth game. Nadal’s forehand winner took him to break point, and as Murray missed an easy forehand Nadal secured the first set in a rapid 37minutes.
This in my opinion is what distinguished a good player from a very good player. Murray without doubt played some extraordinary tennis, making some risky yet profitable decisions, however one risk too many led to a mistake. Nadal on the other hand remained in his comfort zone, striking at exactly the right moment to clinch the set. Nadal made only one unforced error in the entire first set. A demoralising statistic for the Scot.
In the second set, Murray had to keep his serving to the high standard he had set in the previous set and hope that the Spaniard would start making a few more mistakes. Both players did just that. Murray did not concede a single point on his serve until the seventh game and Nadal suddenly kept making more unforced errors, but to no avail as Murray failed miserably to clinch the two break points. The crowd was becoming slightly hysterical, with groans as the tension rose. And, when Nadal’s forehand deliver yet another unreachable shot, securing him a two set lead. The crowd was deflated and Murray was fighting for breath.
Surprisingly, Murray breaks Nadal in the first game of the third set. He’s not giving up on the dream just yet. The crowd get behind Murray again, with the chants echoing around the stadium as it’s the first time Murray has taken a game against the Spaniard’s serve. Hope is still left. I think! Murray secures the next game and the crowd sit back more confidently on their seats with a sigh of relief as the set swings in Murray’s favour. But it seem’s that Nadal doesn’t give up and picks up the tempo, hitting some brutal ground-strokes to claw himself back onto the scoreboard.
What I’ve learnt about Nadal so far from this match is that Nadal times his ambushes to perfection. His risks are logically and analytically thought through to the exact moment. He knows when to pounce to perfection and win the points that really matter. Very good players seem to have an annoyingly good habit of doing it. Nadal cracks out his trademark shot loaded with extra top-spin and although Murray tries to go for the winner, the pressure gets to him as he takes a too bigger risk, plowing it into the net.
Murray folds under the pressure as he slaps a volley that drops long by over an inch. Nadal collapses on the fresh grass turf in realisation that he’s made it to the final. The match is over and Murray’s Wimbledon dreams are over. For another year at least. However, the result was not one of being less talented. Murray didn’t play poorly, in fact quite the opposite. The result was simply a case of Nadal out-playing him at a few critical junctures. Nadal is more experienced. Murray’s time will come.