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Rafa sorry for Murray agony

Rafael Nadal almost looked apologetic as he whispered words of consolation into Andy Murray's ear after he made sure that Britain's wait for a men's Wimbledon champion would roll into a 75th year.

But moments earlier, the 2008 champion had played the role of dream wrecker to perfection as he roared into his fourth final at the All England Club by inflicting a painful 6-4 7-6 6-4 defeat on fourth seed Murray.

After eyeing Murray's lashed volley drop beyond the dusty baseline, Nadal collapsed on to his back and appeared as if he was celebrating winning a second title instead of merely booking a final date with Tomas Berdych.

"I wished him (the) best of luck for the rest of the season, and sorry for today," Nadal said of his net exchange with Murray.

"I know it was an important match for him. I felt sorry for him because he's a very nice person."

Nadal's victory condemned British men to a 10-match losing streak in Wimbledon semi-finals, with Murray's two flops adding to the failures of Mike Sangster (one), Roger Taylor (three) and Tim Henman (four).

The giant-killing run of Berdych, who sensationally ended Roger Federer's pursuit of a seventh title in the quarter-finals, showed no signs of slowing down after he dashed Novak Djokovic's hopes of a maiden grasscourt title with a 6-3 7-6 6-3 win in the other semi-final.

"I think (for) every young kid who first time hits the ball, this is the dream to be in the final of any grand slam. If you can do it at Wimbledon it's amazing," said Berdych, the first Czech man since Ivan Lendl in 1987 to reach the final here. "It couldn't get better."

For Murray, things could not get much worse as he was again left to scratch his stubble and contemplate what might have been after losing in the semis for the second successive year.

With the whole of Britain expecting Murray to become the first homegrown man to reach the final since Bunny Austin in 1938, even former England soccer captain David Beckham dropped in to Centre Court to see what all the fuss was about.

He was treated to a gripping contest featuring intense baseline rallies, and thundering forehands and volleys.

But luck was not with Murray as his hopes died thanks to a double fault, a phone ringing and a netcord.

Locked at 4-4 in the first set, Murray went on to surrender his serve, 5-4, allowing Nadal to take the set.

Forty two minutes later a chorus of groans could be heard as he bowed out.

Nadal must now overcome Berdych to regain the title he won in 2008, but 24-year-old Berdych will have no recollection of the last time a Czech man made it to the showpiece match here as he was aged one when Lendl made it to the 1987 final.

But on a hot and sticky afternoon he made sure of his own memories.

It was the kind of weather that makes people drowsy and third seed Djokovic appeared to sleepwalk through the first set.

Djokovic came alive at 6-5 down in the second set tiebreak when, following a 23-shot rally, his lob was called out. After HawkEye confirmed it had in fact dropped in, Djokovic's anger boiled over as he was asked to replay the point.

Hands on hips, he argued with the umpire to no effect. After saving five set points, he gifted it with a double fault.

Djokovic flung his racket down to knock over his chair and then mockingly clapped the umpire when handed a code violation.


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