Completing the men’s dream semis, defending champion Rafael Nadal appeared to be in little mood to emulate Roger Federer, who earlier surrendered a two-set lead and allowed his match against Novak Djokovic to turn into a five-set classic.
Instead, the second-seeded Spaniard played smothering all-court tennis, with only a lapse in the third set, en route to a 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over No. 4 Andy Murray, to advance to a repeat of last year’s Monday final against Djokovic.
Nadal played aggressive, but contained, ball, judiciously approaching the net to win 19 of 25 points. In long rallies, Nadal frequently dared Murray to go for more than he needed to, provoking 55 errors and continually frustrating the irritable Scot.
“I am playing very good level, I think every day better, and today I played my best match against a most difficult opponent,” said Nadal.
In their third match in three days, Nadal initially looked much fresher than Murray, who needed four tough sets to get past John Isner in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard thoroughly outplayed Murray in the first two sets but allowed him back into the match in the third, as Nadal’s shots suddenly began to lose a bit of steam and land short.
“I was maybe going for too many big shots at the beginning of the match,” said Murray. “And then the third and fourth sets I started being more patient.”
Nadal bounced back in the fourth set to snuff out the Scot’s hope of a second come-from-behind victory on a rain-altered Super Saturday. The Spaniard dug in to snatch a break advantage for a 3-1 lead in a tightly contested fourth set and then broke again at love to cement the three-hour, 24-minute victory.
Prior to this encounter, Nadal had won the duo’s last four matches, including the semifinals of Wimbledon earlier this summer. In 2008, Murray defeated Nadal in the US Open semis.
The third set that Nadal surrendered to Murray is the only one he has lost en route to the final.
Nadal, however, is on a five-match losing streak against his upcoming opponent, world No. 1 Djokovic.
“He's obviously the favorite for the final, and I know I have to do something better than the other matches to try to change the situation,” said Nadal. “I play five finals against him and lose all five. Hopefully New York will help me.”
Asked if he’d try to employ a new game plan against Djokovic, the baseliner Nadal joked, “I think I gonna do serve and volley.” Turning serious, Nadal said, “The only way to beat him is believe in the victory, play aggressive, and play every moment perfect. So that's what I have to try.”
“My approach to the match is always the same: try my best in every moment and try to play my game very well.”
- Nadal’s record against Murray is now 13-4.
- This was their third consecutive meeting in a Slam.
- Nadal, now 13-4 in Slam semis, is seeking his 11th Grand Slam title, which would equal Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver.
|Andy Murray GBR (4)||4||2||6||2|
|Rafael Nadal ESP (2)||6||6||3||6|