Its the question that all British tennis fans have been asking themselves, can the plucky Scot beat the Mighty Majorcan? It is being billed as the match of the tournament so far, Andy Murray plays Rafael Nadal in the semi finals of the All England Championships and is aiming to win the title, the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936. Andy has all the expectation of the British public, the huge weight of expectation of Britain on his shoulders. Having beat Rafa in the quarter finals in the Australian Open in January he stands a better than good chance of beating Nadal.
Andy is in fantastic form, having weathered the early storm against Jo Wilfriend Tsonga, Murray was lucky not to go 2 sets down in his quarter final match. He luckily took the 2nd set breaker and didnt look back taking the 3rd and 4th with ease. Muzza had the crowd in raptures when he finished the game with one of the hardest forehands he has ever hit, screaming past the helpless Tsonga! Nadal also enters the semi final on the back of a great clay court season, having won the Clay Grand Slam winning Madrid, Rome and Monte Carlo then capping it off with the Roland Garros French Open title. Nadal has survived early scares in the 2nd and 3rd rounds and came through his 4th round in comanding fashion against Paul Henri Mathieu. He then came from behind and avoided a potential banana skin in the Swede Robin Soderling.
So here we are, both players in great form, Nadal eager to win the Channel Slam ( again) and Murray eager to get the monkey off his back. If we look back at the two players grandslam history Murray has won the last two encounters, in the semis of US Open 2008 and more recently in January this year at the Aussie Open, when Andy played the best he has played in a long while! Andy is in that kind of form and is taking opponents on and going for his shots. All too often Murrays career has been punctuated with bad tactical decisions and staying back behind the baseline trying to absorb his opponents power. Andy has lost this way in the last 6 grandslams, by failing to dictate the points and finding himself doing all the chasing. Tomorrow I have no doubt Murray will try to do the dictating, as Nadal is one of the best hustlers around, he will need all the shots in his repertoire to win. As one veteran player told me recently, to play Nadal you almost need to win the point twice. Its so very very true.
Cheered on by his mother lovely girlfriend Kim Sears and Centre Court, Murray has the chance to make history and finally put to rest the Fred Perry demons! His only previous visits to Grandslam finals Murray has suffered defeat to the GOAT, Roger Federer. Surely Andy will be buoyed by the fact that Roger is out, and should he get to the final he will play two players which he can beat. But for the moment Andy must focus on every point, if he does the simple things well, there is no reason why he cannot win.
To finish a quote from Rudyard Kiplings ‘ If”
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
‘you’ll be a Man, my son’