Nadal defeats Murray to reach Wimbledon final
Andy Murray's wait to make a Wimbledon final goes on after he was beaten in four sets by defending champion Rafael Nadal in their last-four rematch today.
Hopes that the outcome could be different to last year were raised when Murray edged a first set of tremendous quality, but the momentum swung suddenly midway through the second set and from there it was a tale of error after error from the Scot versus an opponent who did not miss.
Nadal won 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4 and goes forward to Sunday's final, where he will be looking to clinch the title for the third time in four years, this time against the man who has taken his number one ranking, Novak Djokovic.
Murray certainly began well, two aces helping him to a comfortable service hold, but anything he could do, Nadal could do better.
The fourth seed consulted the trainer at the first change of ends, perhaps still bothered by the hip flexor problem he suffered in his quarter-final win over Feliciano Lopez, but he seemed to be moving pretty well.
There was not so much as a sniff of a break in the first 10 games but it was utterly compelling, with both men producing some stunning tennis.
Murray's first real test arrived in game 11, Nadal's incredible retrieving taking him to deuce twice, but the 24-year-old held on and was rewarded with a huge cheer.
And when the top seed slipped to 0-40 in the next game, Murray had three set points. A big serve took care of the first but on the second Nadal netted a forehand to give his opponent the perfect start.
Last year the Scot had lost in straight sets, and only once in his career had he been beaten by Nadal after winning the opening set, and that was their first meeting at the Australian Open in 2007.
Murray was playing a very intelligent game, targeting Nadal's backhand and not letting him take control on his fearsome forehand, and he had another opening in the fourth game of the second set.
At 15-30, Murray had a simple-looking forehand to win the point but he missed it, and from there his fortunes quickly took a downward turn. His first sloppy service game followed, a double fault then a missed smash on break point to let Nadal back in.
The Spaniard seized his chance, breaking again when Murray dumped a backhand into the net, and he made it five games in a row to take the set.
Murray's slump continued at the start of the third as Nadal broke again to take firm control of the match. The fourth seed did well to save two break points but another error brought up a third and this time he blasted a forehand long.
He at last stopped the rot after seven games in a row for his opponent but Nadal was not giving up anything on his serve and it was Murray who was having to do all the work just to stay in touch.
The Spaniard created another break point in the seventh game, taking it with a classic forehand cross-court pass, and the set quickly followed.
A tally of 26 unforced errors from Murray and only six from Nadal told its own story, and the contrast from the end of the first set could not have been greater.
There were no shouts or angry gestures from the Scot, he just seemed unable to raise either himself or the crowd, and there was a collective resigned sigh when he dumped a forehand into the net to drop serve again at the start of the third set.
The fans tried to help their man and at last there were flickers of life as he brought up his first break point since the opening set in the fourth game.
Nadal was too good, though, and now Murray showed his frustration, flinging his cap to the grass. Another chance came and went in the flash of a Spanish forehand as Nadal held on.
That was to prove Murray's last opening and a fourth double fault brought up a first match point. Nadal had to wait, though, as the fourth seed sent down an ace, but serving it out he did not falter, sealing victory with a forehand winner.