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Murray v Nadal as it happened

Men's singles fourth round result:

A MURRAY (GB) 12 v R NADAL (Spa) 2

3-6 2-6 4-6

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By Tom Fordyce at Wimbledon

Murray 4-6 Nadal
Rafa races to 30-0, thrashes away a turf-burner of a smash at the net and administers the coup de grace with a half-volley forehand that Murray can only desperately punt long.

Nadal roars with delight, clenching his fists and pointing up at Coach Toni as the crowd rise to him. What a display - that was as close to perfection as you'll see. Murray - weary of limb after Monday's epic win over Gasquet, out-gunned from start to finish - trudges off court with head bowed. What could be possibly do about that?

Murray 4-5 Nadal
Now then. We were in exactly this position two nights ago - Murray two sets down, needing to break to stay in the match, and we all know what happened next. This time? Hmmm...

Murray 3-5 Nadal
Murray, who's only won nine points off Rafa's serve in the entire match, has been blown away by a brilliant blizzard out there. Federer was fantastic earlier on but Nadal's been even better - even with a Union flag bowler hat on, you'd just have to applaud him with mouth agape.

Murray 3-4 Nadal
Murray's gasping for air like a deep-sea diver whose tanks have run dry. Nadal smashes a forehand cross-court with such ferocity that people grab the person next to them in knock-kneed terror. Murray batters a two-handed backhand drive two inches wide to ship another break point and then wafts with exhaustion at another. The ball falls into the net and that, you would fear, could be goodnight Charlie.

Murray 3-3 Nadal
It's another hold to love at pace from Nadal. "We love you Rafa!" screams one giddy fan. "Marry me!"

Murray 3-2 Nadal
Panic in one small section of the crowd as a top-edge from Murray spirals into the sky before rocketing down towards them. A large lady fends off her neighbours before getting nowhere near the snag. Disappointing. Rafa just misses with a flicked lob but then drills another one of those killer forehand into the corner to wrestle a break point - saved when Murray finds the dust on the edge of the line with a lusty forehand. Nadal scampers but clouts a forehand just long and Murray's escaped. Ladyfriend Kim beams while Mama Judy glowers.

Murray 2-2 Nadal
Shadows stretch the length of the court as Murray finally ruffles Rafa on his Spanish serve. Nadal dumps a backhand into the net to go to 15-30 and misses his first serve, but a woeful weak return from Murray allows Rafa to thrash away the winner. When Murray flips a basic backhand into the tram-tracks the glimmer is gone.

Murray 2-1 Nadal
That gets them going at last - after stumbling blindly to 0-30, Murray goes toe-to-toe on the baseline to haul himself through the game with grim, teeth-gritted determination. From the reaction around Centre you'd think he'd just found a Wonka golden ticket.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Here's the good news: Murray wins a point off Rafa's first serve. And the bad? It's only the third time he's done it all day, and it's the only sliver of joy he has in the game.

Murray 1-0 Nadal
There's only one man Rafa has lost to after going two sets up, and he's relaxing at home in a cardigan.

SECOND SET

Murray 2-6 Nadal
Pantomime ooohs from the crowd as Nadal double-faults at 40-0. That's the first point Murray has won in three games, and he didn't even hit it. He blazes from the baseline on the next serve to pick up a gambler wide and is then tanked for his temerity - Rafa firing forehands like a Gatling gun until Murray collapses a backhand into the net. Rafa roars and pumps his fist.

Murray 2-5 Nadal
These groundstrokes from Nadal are somehow beautiful and terrifying at the same time - it's like being eaten alive by a snow leopard. He crashes his way to 40-0 on the Murray serve and polishes him off with a backhand so brutally fast and accurate that even the ball starts sobbing.

Murray 2-4 Nadal
The crowd are desperate for any small sign of a Murray revival, but Rafa is pooping this party with a near-perfect performance.

Murray 2-3 Nadal
Small crumbs of comfort for Murray as he aces out wide. Crumbs are all they are though as a forehand pass from Nadal starts wide and then swings in like a Wasim Akram yorker to bite the line. He saves the break point with a boomer serve and stirs a succession of "Come on Andy!"s with a solid forehand to hold. In the Royal Box, Bruce Forsyth and Jimmy Tarbuck are parked next to each to other, chewing gum like Olivia Newton-John in the final scene of Grease.

Murray 1-3 Nadal
Rafa's uncle and coach Toni stares out from behind dark shades as his nephew forehands Murray towards oblivion. It's as quiet as the Crucible out there, and the gap in class between these two is bigger than a behemoth's bath-tub.

Murray 1-2 Nadal
That just took us beyond ominous to serious. Murray, mentally rattled after a sweet Rafa winner onto the line, smacks a makeable backhand into the net and another way wide. Panicked into trying to find winners where there are none, he flops a woeful second serve halfway down the net and screams to the pale blue heavens as he goes another break behind.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Ominous signs once again. Nadal aces out wide to stroll to a love hold, and Murray can't get a sniff. Rafa's now winning 94% of points on his first serve and 82% on his second serve, and if he keeps that up Murray's as likely to break him as he is to play up front for England.

Murray 1-0 Nadal
Just 53% of the Murray first serves finding the box at the mo, and with a second serve as scary as Boogie Beebies that's leaving him in deep trouble. A forehand spankered wide takes us to deuce, a better slicer of a drop-shot forces Nadal to net and a leaping volley cross-court with nose on tape sees him safe. For now.

FIRST SET

Murray 3-6 Nadal
It's all gone rather quiet - Nadal sprints to an overhead of his own and creams it away, and that's the set. He's only ticking over at around 70%, the Mallorcan muscleman, but he's clambering all over the Murray serve while slapping down any attacks on his own.

Murray 3-5 Nadal
That Murray drop-shot is potentially the most irritating thing in sport since Craig Bellamy. At 15-15 he throws in an absolute stinker to cries of horror from the crowd and then top-edges a top-spinner way over Nadal's head to go two break points down again. Gulps sound in throats like bullfrogs at dusk. Murray drills a sweet backhand cross-court to save one and then runs to the net to dash away an easy overhead - only to inexplicably thrash it long. Calamitous error at a key point in the match. In the VIP seats, Judy Murray grimaces like a man with piles on a cold morning.

Murray 3-4 Nadal
Rafa stands in the only quadrant of sunshine left on court and leaps into his serve to breeze to 40-0. He tucks a stray strand behind his bandana, blows on his fingers like Boris B and noses in front when Murray adrenalises a forehand beyond the baseline. Back on his changeover chair he glugs down some mineral water while his left leg bounces up and down like a nervy hare's.

Murray 3-3 Nadal
Murray staggers against the ropes as a flailing forehand falls far short and a shaky double-fault sets up two break points. A big serve means Nadal can only steer his first return just into the tram-tracks before an uncharacteristic backhand netter saves the second. Worried shouts fill the balmy air as a Murray backhand blast hits tape, but a double-handed slap down the line and an ace thrashed down the line squeak him out of danger.

Murray 2-3 Nadal
Oops - Murray stretches out to clout back a Nadal serve wide to his backhand and sends the ball sizzling straight at the umpire. The man in the chair takes it smack on the shoulder and then plays to the crowd like Henri Leconte by blowing on his blazer as if it's on fire. No sniff of a chance yet on the Rafaserve.

Murray 2-2 Nadal
Relieved applause as Rafa cracks a forehand long, and an acer down the T brings us level. It's anxious out there already - hands clutching at mouths, nails picking at seams.

Murray 1-2 Nadal
The first "C'mon!" shouts echo round the rafters as Rafa spits a spinning second serve into Murray's nose. A first ace out wide seals the deal. Two youngsters in the crowd wearing McEnroe afros in Italian colours pick absentmindedly at their white face-paint.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Worrying signs already as Murray flops over an 88mph patsy of a second serve which Nadal toasts for tea. A big skidder of a first serve at 129mph then has Nadal slashing outside off like Adam Gilchrist and getting a thick edge over second slip before Rafa hurries a backhand into the net to give up the game. Raucousness ensues.

Murray 0-1 Nadal
Happy anticipatory roars from all corners as the two young guns take a final face-wipe on their towels and jog out into the middle. Rafa rakes three rapid forehands deep into Murray's left-hand corner and then dabs in the first drop-shot of the day to go to 30-0. He then delivers the classic Nadal point - brutal forehands, endless scurrying, a gradual working-over of his opponent and a delicate drifter over the tape with Murray abandoned behond the baseline. Warm sunshine now toasting the tram-lines on Centre - we should be good to see this one through to the end now.

1809: Punters who sprinted for the facilites after that Federer clinic are now dashing back to their seats. A man clutching four plastic pots of Pimms edges carefully down a gangway and raises them triumphantly in the direction of his thirsty compadres.

1807: Rafa is 5-1 on to win this, with most of the cash on him to do it in three sets. We'll see, betting exchanges, we'll see.

1803: Now there's a strange thing - Murray strides out onto Centre Court first, to warm applause, and when Nadal trots out 20 seconds later it's the Mallorcan who gets the bigger cheer.

1756: If you haven't heard the chat from earlier, Murray was spotted by a BBC colleague at 9pm last night in Sainsbury's in Fulham Broadway. In his basket: a well-known brand of American fizzy drink, a jar of mayonnaise and several pots of desserts. Nerves can do funny things to your appetite.

1755: A little stattage for you: Murray's played Rafa three times in his career, losing all three, and has failed to win a set in their last two matches - but this is the first time they've met on grass. And if Murray does pull off the biggest win of his career, he'll have made the Wimbledon semis at only his third attempt - it took Tim Henman five years to get through to the last four.

1754: If you're feeling nervy, I don't blame you. I had a nightmare about Nadal last night, and I'm not even playing him.

see also
Men's singles latest
02 Jun 08 |  Live scores
Live - Wimbledon day nine
02 Jul 08 |  Tennis
The maturing of Andy Murray
01 Jul 08 |  Tennis


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