A MURRAY (GB) v R NADAL (Spa)
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Murray 3-6 2-6 Nadal
Murray goes 30-0 up with a couple of delightful shots, but Nadal is the picture of determination and, aided by a crunching forehand, levels at 30-30. The Spaniard then earns match point when Murray's return hits a net cord and goes out, but Nadal's forehand goes wide to hand the Scot a reprieve. It's a reprieve that lasts all of two minutes as Nadal seals the match at the second attempt when Murray nets a forehand.
Murray 3-6 2-5 Nadal
Not this time for Murray. Nadal steps up yet another gear, powering home some brilliant serves and then serve-volleying to hold to love. Murray exclaims "Andy Murray! Terrible!" at one point, but in all fairness, Nadal is just too good on this form.
Murray 3-6 2-4 Nadal
Murray will not be giving in easily in Hamburg, and he powers his way to a welcome love hold. Now, can he break back?
"Too. Many. Errors. Frustrating!!!"
The Man From Viltheed on 606
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Murray 3-6 1-4 Nadal
Muzza, still smarting from that break earlier, looks a little off his game just as Nadal ups the pressure and the Spaniard holds to 15 courtesy of a few booming passing shots. Apologies if these updates stalled for some of you - apparently I messed up some sort of tagging issue. Durrrr. Anyway, we're firmly back on track now, unlike Murray...
Murray 3-6 1-3 Nadal
Better from Murray as he finds his rhythm off a shorter serve to move to 40-15 up thanks to a couple of thumping returns. Nadal is not easily broken, though, and he battles his way back to deuce before breaking. Ouch.
Murray 3-6 1-2 Nadal
When he gets it right, Murray is giving reason for real optimism out there. A cracking rally goes the Scot's way thanks to a thumping backhand, but a missed chance at 15-0 gives the initiative straight back to Nadal who, a net volley and lob later, holds.
Murray 3-6 1-1 Nadal
Oopsa-daisy... Murray is back chuntering to himself about missed opportunities and errors again as Nadal breaks right back, finishing the game off with a smashed forehand at the net that nearly takes Andy's guts out.
Murray 3-6 1-0 Nadal
Nadal takes his eye off the ball for a split second and Murray's persistence is rewarded with a break point. This time the Scot makes no mistake as Nadal sends a forehand long and maybe Mark in Northampton (see below) has Muzza's gameplan spot on...
"Andy's doing alright. Encouraging signs but he needs to be more clinical. Which is easier said than done against someone who retrieves like Rafa."
Bonnie Prince Scotsguy on 606
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"I'm Andy's best mate and he rang last night to tell me he would win. I will cry if he loses. COME ON MUZZA."
Georgie in Dumfries via text
"Way too many errors from Murray."
philosophicalarfster on 606
Murray 3-6 Nadal
...then again, maybe he isn't. Nadal's aggression takes its toll as a fiery forehand brings the Spaniard break and first-set point. Murray saves it thanks to Nadal's unforced forehand error but he then misses the chance to close out the game when he sends a forehand into the open court wide. Nadal makes him pay for that error - and a few more - as he breaks at the third attempt and that's the first set.
Murray 3-5 Nadal
New balls for Nadal... and a glimmer of hope for Murray as he dominates three of the first four points to earn two break points. His forehand is long on the first and a wayward return brings it back to deuce, though. Nadal eventually holds but Murray is starting to get good bounce on his shots now, which is affecting Nadal's ability to power back his returns - perhaps the Scot is finalising a gameplan?
"One thing in Andy's favour is that he doesn't grunt."
supersmude on 606
Murray 3-4 Nadal
Murray is still giving away the odd cheap point - he can't afford very many of them - but he holds his nerve to serve out to 30. Looks like the Scot might be looking to mix in a bit of serve-volley as well. No harm in that.
"Sometimes it takes Muzza a set to warm up . Hopefully he will turn it round."
Mark, Northampton via text
Murray 2-4 Nadal
It's relentless from Nadal so far, hitting the lines and the corners again and again. Not many answers from Murray as yet, though to be fair he's not doing a huge amount wrong. Nadal holds to love.
Murray 2-3 Nadal
A bit better from Muzza, but he's having to work hard to hold his serve right now. The Scot resolves to come into the net a couple of times to good effect, and an ace relieves a little of the pressure being exerted upon him by Nadal. The Spaniard pushes him to deuce, but Murray - with an exquisite lob and another ace along the way - just about holds.
"Like i said, Nadal is on a vengeance run. Demolition man at work."
coolpixel on 606
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Murray 1-3 Nadal
Don't lose hope just yet Murray fans - matches between these two have tended to have an abundance of break point chances, so let's just hope the Scot can capitalise if/when they come his way. They don't come this game, though, as Nadal bludgeons his way to a hold to 15 from the back of the court. Murray grazes his knee on the way, poor little blighter.
"I love Rafa's left arm but simply cant stand his bottom-wear, they seem terribly confused. Am i trousers? No. Am i shorts? No."
The Joy of Cesc on 606
Murray 1-2 Nadal
Muzza nets an easy overhead and is then exposed by a poor drop shot to go 0-30 down, before a wide backhand gives Nadal two break points. Nadal presses brilliantly next point and seals the break with an overhead.
Murray 1-1 Nadal
Murray produces a cracking return to snatch the opening point and then opens up the court beautifully to go 30-15 up against the serve. Nadal recovers to hold, aided by an ace to seal the game, but signs of encouragement for Murray.
Murray 1-0 Nadal
Encouraging start from Murray - less so from Nadal. The Scot struggles to get his first serve in but shows a couple of neat touches around the net as unforced errors from the Spaniard help him to an easy hold to love.
1822: Scrap that about the sunlight varying across the court, by the way, the shadows of the stand already cover the clay. Might help Murray being a bit cooler... maybe? We're moments away, now...
1819: Should Murray beat Nadal today, it would be only the Spaniard's third defeat in 107 matches on clay - incredible record, that. For the record, by the way, a defeat would also see Nadal lose his number two status to Novak Djokovic by the end of the week in all likelihood. Has the top three in the world been nearly as strong as it is now in recent years?
"If Murray is to win today he needs to be very aggressive and end points early... I cant see that happening though."
Radebe_Raver_1988 on 606
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1815: Murray calls heads at the toss - doesn't he know tails never fails? - and Nadal promptly opts to receive when the coin lands his way.
1812: The two players are out on court, Nadal in his traditional blue vest and Muzza is his white shirt and cap - that headwear may come in handy with the shadows lengthening and the light varied over the clay...
"Nadal's been winging a bit lately. If Andy comes out aggressive and keeps consistency throughout the match, he may have a chance."
Abroard_magpie on 606
1810: Before we get too carried away by Nadal's recent fitness woes, though, we must remind ourselves that today is Andy Murray's birthday.
Now, admittedly, I can't actually remember what I was doing on my 21st birthday but I can pretty much guarantee I wouldn't have been up to much tennis. Then again, I was not a professional tennis player on the verge of a monster match against Spain's finest.
I just wonder if Murray really believes he can beat Nadal...
Oh, and as a bizarre aside, a year ago to the day was when Murray sustained that wrist injury here. Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself.
"It's his best chance to beat Nadal on clay. Nadal is not 100% fit and is still struggling after last week."
incredibleAldo on 606
"This in a way is a great opportunity for Andy. He has very little pressure going into the match and should hopefully be able to play freely and aggressively, rather than the defensive player we've seen so much of this year. He has a chance but it's not very high..."
Bonnie Prince Scotsguy on 606
1805: Hello folks, how're we doing?
So, another day, another opportunity for Andy Murray to enhance his burgeoning reputation on the ATP Tour - this time in the toughest of matches against world number two Rafael Nadal.
On paper, this looks completely one-sided. While Murray, by his own admission, is still finding his way on clay, Rafael Nadal - 4025 ranking points above Murray and with a 2-0 winning record over the Scot in previous meetings - is simply the world's greatest on this surface.
However, all may not be lost for Britain's number one. Nadal has been complaining of fatigue in recent weeks, he suffered with a blister in losing early in Rome last week, and then he took more than two hours to beat Potito Starace on Wednesday.
Add to that Murray's performances in his wins over Dimitry Tursunov and Gilles Simon this week, and Nadal might just be in for a more difficult encounter today than the formbook suggests... right?
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