Monday, April 22, 2024

Nadal proves too much


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WIMBLEDON – Rafael Nadal took apart Andy Murray in straight sets to reach his fourth Wimbledon final and prolong Britain’s 74-year wait for a homegrown male champion.The top-ranked Spaniard was at his relentless best, whipping topspin forehands from corner to corner, as he beat the fourth-seeded Murray 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-4 to move within one win of a second Wimbledon title and eighth Grand Slam championship.FavouriteNadal will be a heavy favourite in tomorrow’s final against 12th-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who defeated No. 3 Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (9), 6-3 to reach his first Grand Slam title match.Nadal won Wimbledon in 2008, beating Roger Federer in an epic five-set final, but was unable to defend his title last year because of tendinitis in both knees.By returning to the final in his fourth straight appearance, Nadal ended Murray’s hopes of becoming the first British player to win the men’s title since Fred Perry in 1936. No British man has even reached the final since Henry “Bunny” Austin in 1938, and British men have now lost in ten Wimbledon semi-finals since then.Even with most of the 15 000-capacity Centre Court crowd willing Murray on, including David Beckham and son Brooklyn in the audience, Nadal was simply too strong and too determined to be stopped.Nadal fell flat on his back at the baseline after Murray hit a forehand volley long on the first match point.Nadal converted three of four breakpoint chances, while Murray broke just once. Nadal had 31 winners and only 13 unforced errors in the 189 points played.“Very, very good match for me,” Nadal said. “To beat Andy you have to play your best tennis always. He’s a big challenge to play against. For me it’s [an] amazing victory against one of the toughest opponents in the world.”Berdych, who upset six-time champion Roger Federer in the quarter-finals, kept up his sparkling run with a straight-set win over Djokovic.HistoricThe 24-year-old Berdych is the first Czech to reach the men’s final at the All England Club since Ivan Lendl in 1987. The only Czech to win the men’s title was Jan Kodes in 1973.“The feeling is absolutely amazing. It is really tough to describe,” Berdych said. “Every young kid, from the first time he hits the ball and thinks to be a tennis player, this is the dream to be in the final of any Grand Slam. This is definitely the biggest tournament for me.”Berdych dictated most of the play with his big first serves and punishing forehand, and seized command of the match by winning a dramatic second-set tiebreaker.Berdych lost serve just once in 16 games and broke Djokovic three times. The Czech had 11 aces, 34 winners and 17 unforced errors. (AP)


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