Andy Murray today fought his way to the Australian Open 2010 Semi-Final after Rafael Nadal retired through a knee injury in their Quarter Final match.
Nadal retired during the third set, with Scotland’s Andy Murray leading at the time 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 3-0 after having fought to first set victory, and having come back from 4-2 down in the second set.
Nadal has not been as ruthless as Murray to date in this tournament, however, and perhaps the extra strain of his additional sets told as he was worked around the court, becoming increasingly uncomfortable, before finally retiring in the third set.
In each of the opening sets, Nadal broke first, but was pegged back by the irrepressible Murray, whose guile and craft seemed a more than adequate foil for Nadal’s power hitting from the baseline.
The second set tie-break, which Murray raced away with 7-2, seemed to spell the end for Nadal, who called on the trainer after losing the tie-breaker. After only three further games – all of which won by Murray – Nadal retired from the match.
In that breaker, Murray worked Nadal hard – the first point was a 20 shot rally – though the Spaniard lost each of the first three points through errors: if he did hurt himself during this match, it could well have been running around his backhand during this tiebreak, which he did on several occasions under extreme pressure from Murray. That said, Nadal looked mobile enough at this point, but simply could not put Murray away.
Nadal did not come into the match wearing any strapping, so it would appear that he suffered the injury at some point during this second set. When Nadal came out in the third, he did not look anything like his normal, mobile, self, and seemed to want to get points finished more quickly than his trademark powerful baseline rallies.
After losing the first game of the third set, on Murray’s serve, at 15 all in the second game, Nadal called the trainer on for his right knee, he was heard telling his trainer that “[the injury] started in the last [second] set”. Nadal looked dejected during the trainer break, though it was only after dropping his serve, and another Murray service game, which went to deuce, that he decided to call an end to proceedings to avoid further antagonising any injury.
This was a disappointing way for this match to finish, as many fans had been relishing the prospect of watching two of the world’s best players do battle over an extended period.
Not least, the game was a little disappointing for Murray himself, who told after the match: “[Nadal] is my favourite player to watch with his energy and I am a bit gutted for him [to have been forced to retire].”
That being said, Nadal did not appear to be physically struggling for most of the first two sets, and Murray seemed to be slightly in control for most of this period: he was a worthy victor today.
Murray, the fifth seed, will face 14th seed Marin Cilic in his semi-final match – Cilic knocked Murray out of the US Open in 2009, so the Scot will be hoping for a better performance this time around. If he can match his three and a bit sets of tennis from today, it could be a first ever Australian Open Final for the Brit.