US OPEN 2011
Nadal Holds Off Murray To Set Blockbuster Final
New York, U.S.A.
by ATP Staff|
Defending champion Rafael Nadal will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in a repeat of the 2010 US Open final after the Spaniard held off Great Britain’s Andy Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 in the second semi-final.
"For sure it's an emotional day for me, winning against one of the best players in the world and reaching another final at the US Open," said Nadal. "It's very, very special. Firstly because it's the final of a Grand Slam. Secondly because I had a few tough moments this summer and every day I woke up with big motivation to practise and try my best in every moment. Finally I had a very positive result. I've been playing better every day and today I played my best match."
A year ago, Nadal defeated Djokovic in four sets to win the US Open title for the first time and complete the career Grand Slam. However, Djokovic has won all five of their meetings in 2011, including victory over the Spaniard in the Wimbledon final.
"This year I go into the match having lost the past five matches against him, five finals, so this will be the sixth," said Nadal. "It's an advantage for him. He's obviously the favourite for the final. I know I have to do something better than the other matches to try to change the situation, and that's what I'm going to try.
"I have to play my game. I've beaten him in the past playing my game. The thing is playing my game very well. I need to be strong mentally all the time, fight every ball, believe in the victory in every moment. That's something that for moments this year I didn't do."
The 25-year-old Nadal is bidding to win his 11th Grand Slam championship and second of the season, following his record-equalling sixth victory at Roland Garros (d. Federer). He is currently joint sixth in the all-time list of Grand Slam men’s singles title leaders.
After both players had saved break points earlier in the set, Nadal broke through in the seventh game as an increasingly frustrated Murray framed a forehand. The Scot’s high-risk tactics were proving more miss than hit, and Nadal confidently closed out the one-set lead.
Murray’s unforced error count continued to climb in the second set and Nadal took full advantage. After holding serve in a nine-minute third game, Nadal benefitted from a wayward volley from Murray to break and lead 3-2. He then broke the Scot again in the seventh game to establish a two-set lead.
The fourth-seeded Murray began to find his range in the third set and a succession of forehands into the Nadal backhand wore the Spaniard down to earn him a 2-0 lead. The Dunblane native was unable to maintain his advantage as Nadal immediately broke back, but Murray persevered with his aggressive tactics and they paid dividends in the eighth game when he broke Nadal again. This time he was able to hold serve and force the match into a fourth set.
“The beginning of the fourth set was really important because Andy had a tougher match than me yesterday,” Nadal later told CBS, referring to the Scot’s taxing four-set tussle with John Isner a day earlier. “He had a break point at the start of the fourth, I saved that, and after I felt like I started to play aggressive and I think I played my best match here this year.”
After saving the break point, Nadal made Murray pay by breaking in the fourth game as the Scot fired a forehand long. Murray showed good resolve to rally from 0/40 down in the sixth game, but when he again fell behind 0/40 in the eighth game, Nadal moved in for the kill and claimed victory after three hours and 24 minutes.
The 24-year-old Murray was bidding to reach his fourth Grand Slam final and second at Flushing Meadows, having finished runner-up to Roger Federer in 2008. The Scot also lost out in the 2010 and 2011 Australian Open finals.
"If you want to judge someone's whole career based on Grand Slams, then I would have had a terrible career. But I don't really feel like I have," said Murray. "There's been other things that I've done well, and I've still got hopefully three or four more years where I'm at my peak. I just need to stay healthy and improve. If I do, I'm getting a little bit closer each year. This year was the best year for me in the slams. There's a few things I need to get better at to do it."Fans in the U.S. can watch a free live stream from Arthur Ashe Stadium: