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Rediff.com  » Sports » Murray upsets Nadal to reach final

Murray upsets Nadal to reach final

Last updated on: September 08, 2008 11:11 IST

Sixth-seeded Briton Andy Murray reached his first Grand Slam final in commanding style by upsetting world number one Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6, 4-6, 6-4 at the US Open on Sunday.

The shrewd Scot outplayed the Spanish left-hander in a semi-final contest that began on Saturday on the Louis Armstrong court and ended more than 24 hours later in the showpiece Arthur Ashe Stadium after being interrupted by the remnants of Tropical Storm Hanna.

Leading by two sets but trailing 2-3 in the third overnight, Murray lost the third set before breaking the Spaniard in the 10th game of the fourth, wrapping up the biggest victory of his career with a backhand winner.

The 21-year-old Briton will play four-times defending champion Roger Federer in Monday's final, the Swiss maestro having beaten Serb Novak Djokovic on Saturday.

"Very relieved," an emotional Murray said in a courtside interview on a sun-splashed, blustery afternoon after ripping 65 winners past Nadal, including 21 aces.

"To come back after yesterday when I was two sets up was obviously tough to sleep on. I'm so glad I came through.

"I thought I was playing well enough to win but I knew Nadal was going to come at me."

Murray, who will attempt to become the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry at the 1936 US Open, has a 2-1 winning record against world number two Federer.

"He's probably the greatest player ever so to get the chance to play against him in a slam final is an honour," said the Scot, the first Briton since Greg Rusedski in 1997 to advance to the championship match at the US Open.

"But I have played well against him in the past so hopefully I can do the same again tomorrow."

ANXIOUS MOMENT

Nadal, who broke Murray at the start of the third set before the match spilled over into a second day, survived one anxious moment in the 10th game but held serve to win the third set.

After hitting a forehand long, the Majorcan saved a break point with an ace before winning the next two points with crunching forehands to peg back Murray's lead.

Continually pressured by Murray's clever variations from the baseline, Nadal was forced to save seven break points in a marathon second game in the fourth set before holding serve.

Murray, understandably demoralised after losing a 15-minute game totalling 22 points, was then broken in the third after making four successive unforced errors. The last of them, a wild forehand that sailed wide, gave Nadal a 2-1 lead.

The Briton, however, broke back in the sixth, when the Spaniard hit a forehand wide, to level at 3-3 and constructed a sequence of near-perfect rallies in the 10th to again break and secure victory in three hours 30 minutes.

Nadal, the French Open and Wimbledon champion who was playing his first Grand Slam as world number one, had won 54 of his previous 56 matches along with eight ATP titles this year.

"I'm very happy for everything," the Spaniard said. "Am I disappointed? Yes. But at the same time, I am happy because I did good semi-finals here. I tried my best all the tournament. He played better than me and he beat me."

Win or lose Monday, Murray will rise to a career-high fourth when the world rankings are issued next week, a fitting move according to four-times US Open singles champion John McEnroe.

"He has an incredible return of serve and some of the best hands in the business," McEnroe said while commentating on the match for an American TV network. "I have always believed he had the potential to go a very long way.

"At the start of the tournament, I said he was the fourth-best player in the world and now the rankings will back up the statement. Let's see if he can go higher -- I think he can."

Source:
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