Nadal downs Murray in three-set thriller

Sat, 27 Nov 17:35:00 2010

World number one Rafael Nadal booked his place in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals with a thrilling 7-6(5) 3-6 7-6(6) win over Andy Murray at the O2 Arena.

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Nadal held a match point whilst serving for the match at 5-4, but Murray mounted a late comeback and even held a 4-2 lead in the final set tie-break before the Spaniard managed to close things out at his third attempt with an outstanding winner.

Next up for the 24-year-old in Sunday afternoon's final will be world number two Roger Federer, after he dominated the second semi-final of the day to beat third seed Novak Djokovic 6-1 6-4.

With both players looking-highly confident on serve right from the off, it was perhaps inevitable that the first set would end in a tie-break.

Nadal took the early advantage and lead 4-2 at the change of ends, having run round a series of balls before drilling a change-of-direction forehand winner down the line.

A 36-stroke rally - won by Murray when he raced up to a drop shot before dinking a backhand volley across court - helped the Scot bounce back as he claimed three straight points to level up.

But Nadal held his ground and wrapped up the set on the second attempt with a drop shot that Murray failed to reach before its second bounce.

Nadal enjoyed the first break points of the match in the second game of the second set, but again Murray refused to lie down and he saved the second with a blistering forehand across court after the Spaniard had squandered the first.

The second set looked primed to follow in the footsteps of the first.

But Murray raised his intensity, just as Nadal's dropped slightly, and the Spaniard found himself on the receiving end of three break points after an aggressive forehand winner across court.

The opportunity looked to have gone for the world number five as Nadal saved the first with a flicked forehand off a Murray drop shot, while the Scot squandered the second and third.

But Murray grabbed the break at the fourth attempt with a blistering backhand drilled across court.

Suddenly everything was going right for Murray, and he went on to consolidate the break after feeding a forehand down the line despite breaking a string. Two games later the 23-year-old levelled the match when he broke for a second time with a couple of ferocious returns of serve.

Murray started the third set in much the same vein when he opened a 0-30 lead against the Nadal serve in the second game.

But just as the momentum looked to have swung decisively in the Scot's favour, Nadal broke to take the lead once again.

Murray thought he had wrapped up another hold with a cross-court winner but instead found himself at deuce after a late call. Deuce quickly became advantage Nadal and the Spaniard took the lead with a dipping forehand return that Murray could only volley into the net.

Murray had a chance to get back in it in the sixth game when he Nadal handed him two break points, but he wasted them both and the Spaniard looked set to roll over the finish line.

The Scot stunned everyone, however, not least Nadal, as he found reserves from somewhere to break back with a backhand down the line when the Spaniard was serving for the set.

Nadal recovered his composure to force the tie-break before Murray again took a slim 4-2 lead thanks to an emphatic forehand winner,just before the change of ends.

The Scot was just two points from victory, only for Nadal to storm back again when he earned a second match point with a forehand that wrong-footed the Scot on the baseline and left him on the floor in pain.

Murray had enough to deny Nadal one last time, working his way into the net to level up again at the second change of ends.

But he ran out of steam shortly after as Nadal booked a place in the championship match with a forehand winner into the corner.

ATP Masters London : Nadal

Pippa Davis / Eurosport

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