Wimbledon – Ruthless Rafa ends Murray dream
Second seed Rafael Nadal rampaged around Centre Court, trampling British hope Andy Murray 6-3 6-2 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon semi-finals.
The Spanish world number two produced what he described as his best display at the All England Club to leave Murray battered and bruised and the crowd shaking their heads in disbelief at some of his play.
On Monday Murray had produced a memorable Houdini escape act to beat Frenchman Richard Gasquet after trailing by two sets and a break but there was never any glimpse of a comeback here.
“This was my best match here for sure,” the 22-year-old Majorcan powerhouse said. “I tried to play aggressive all the time and hit big power on my forehand.
“I’m happy to be in the semi-final and also to beat such a tough player.”
Barring a huge semi-final shock against either Frenchman Arnaud Clement or Rainer Schuettler of Germany, Nadal looks a certainty for a third consecutive final here against Roger Federer, should the Swiss five-times champion beat Marat Safin.
After taking Wimbledon king Federer to five sets last year, Nadal thinks he is better equipped now to win his first grand slam other than the four French Opens he has bagged.
“I think I am doing a lot of things better than last year. Slicing better, the position on court, this is better,” he said.
“Last year was close. Only one more point and probably I have the trophy in my home.
“But first I’m gonna have a difficult match against Clement or Schuettler because they are playing well.”
Murray looked jaded and never got fired up as he did against Gasquet when he whipped the crowd into a football style frenzy.
He admitted he had been outplayed.
“He played so much better than me,” the 21-year-old 12th seed said. “His forehand was ridiculous, I couldn’t get any rhythm…I felt rushed on every point.
“All I could do was hope his level would go down a bit but I had no chances at all.”
Murray saved break points at 2-3 in the first set but it was only a temporary reprieve. Two games later he botched a drop shot attempt, shanked a forehand and then hit a smash way past the baseline to gift Nadal the first break of the match.
A stunning whipped forehand pass off a low Murray slice brought gasps from the crowd and Nadal closed out the first set.
Nadal completely dominated the second set, dishing out a fearful beating to a tiring Murray.
The third set was a little more competitive and Murray even had a sniff of a chance when leading 2-1. Nadal responded with another barrage of baseline thunderbolts, breaking at 3-3 before putting Murray out of his misery.