Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Murray v Nadal gamewatch

Australian Open, Melbourne Park Fourth round result:

A Murray (GB) v R Nadal (Spa)

7-6 4-6 6-4 3-6 1-6

* denotes server


By Ben Dirs

Fifth set:

Murray 1-6 Nadal
Murray fraying now, a wild forehand sailing miles long and wide, and the Scot plays a tame backhand into the net to give Nadal match-point. Nadal goes long with the first but produces a great passing backhand to finally seal the match after three hours and 52 minutes of mind-bogglingly good tennis. Nadal falls to the floor and clutches his face as if he’s just won the title. Great performance from Murray – he’ll cut Nadal down one day.

Murray 1-5 Nadal
Looks all over now and Murray will rue the raft of break-points he’s missed in this match. Hand it to Nadal, however, he looks to be buzzing more now than he was at the start – someone check that man’s bananas! Murray does chalk up a game in the fifth, scrambling well on the final point to hold reasonably easily.

Murray 0-5 Nadal
Murray wins another thrilling point, manoeuvring Nadal all over the court before putting away a deft forehand volley. But Nadal is still going at full throttle and holds serve easily.

Murray 0-4 Nadal
Double-fault by Murray but the Scot keeps his composure at the net to go 30-15. Signs of weariness and frustration from Murray as he plays a backhand rather limply into the net but Murray saves a break point with a rasping backhand winner. However, Nadal double-breaks, pouncing on a favourable net-cord and putting away the overhead.

Murray 0-3 Nadal
Nadal has found another gear from somewhere and wraps his raquet around a cross-court forehand winner to go 15-0. Murray isn’t finished though and leaves Nadal standing with a dreamy forehand straight down the line. Murray earns two more break points with a fine dipping backhand. He should have converted the first, but needlessly retrieves a backhand volley way outside in the tramlines and Nadal picks him off. Nadal makes it deuce with an impudent drop-shot and these unconverted break-points are mounting up. However, Murray earns another with a thumping backhand winner. Murray roars in Nadal’s direction at the net and the Spaniard, who looks like he’d be quite handy in an argument, stares back. Nadal saves again though, Murray slamming a backhand wide, and holds when Murray goes long with two consecutive backhands. Choker for Murray, he must hold now.

Murray 0-2 Nadal
Wicked cross-court backhand winner from Nadal and the Spaniard works some angles to move to 15-30. Nadal’s pumped up for this final set, scrambling around the corner as if it’s the first. He earns break-point with a simply magnificent forehand winner down the line and breaks with a cross-court forehand that leaves Murray in diving boots.

Murray 0-1 Nadal
Strap yourselves in, this could go all the way. Murray’s fiddling with his teeth now. If it’s not his side it’s his teeth, he really is a little drama queen. Murray outhustles Nadal from the back of the court and makes it 15-30 with a doozy of a forehand winner. Murray earns break point with a vicious flat forehand but just misses with a fizzing backhand. However, Murray puts away a forehand volley to regain the advantage – but mishits an attempted top-spin forehand. Murray goes off alarming after finding the net with a forehand and Nadal rubs his nose in it with an ace to hold.

Fourth set:

Murray 3-6 Nadal
The umpire overrules the baseline judge, Murray challenges the umpire and Hawkeye proves the umpire correct. Does that all make sense? Nadal gets a wicked net-cord that ricochets over Murray’s oustretched racket and the Scot double-faults on break point. It’s decider time ladies and gentlemen…

Murray 3-5 Nadal
Nadal tucks into a banana between games and comes out bristling, taking the game with some ease.

Murray 3-4 Nadal
Nadal reads a Murray drop-shot and plays a deft winner cross-court. A fine pick-up off his toes by Murray makes it 30-15 and both players are thigh deep in the trenches here. Nadal hits back with a ripper of a forehand before reaching another Murray drop-shot and converting the point. Nadal challenges a Murray winner – but the call was correct and the game stands at deuce. A mis-hit by Murray gives him the advantage, but he misses with a forehand on the run. This is looking like it could be a pivotal game. Murray gives Nadal the advantage with a backhand into the net and Nadal breaks courtesy of a fluffed volley by the Scot. Nadal in the driving seat here in set four.

Murray 3-3 Nadal
Coming up to 1am in Melbourne and there are still about 10,000 crammed into the Rod Laver Arena. Murray gives himself a talking to after missing with a backhand before Nadal rams home an ace out wide. However, Nadal is then called for a foot-fault – rare indeed – before Murray muffs a backhand. Easy service hold for Nadal.

Murray 3-2 Nadal
Murray wrong-foots Nadal with a forehand winner before serve and volleying to go 30-0. A thumping ace makes it 40-0 and Nadal hands the game to Murray with a wild forehand. Just three games needed now Andy…we all know it’s not going to be as easy as at…

Murray 2-2 Nadal
Breathtaking backhand down the line by Murray before he unleashes a forehand winner at full gallop. Three break points for the Scot. Nadal saves the first with a muscular forehand winner before Murray just misses the line with a backhand. Had he challenged, Hawkeye would have called it in. Nadal brings it back to deuce before fluffing a backhand into the net. The Spaniard saves again but loses another exchange at the net. However, Nadal comes off best in a lengthy baseline exchange, Murray dinking a forehand long when he should have done better. Five break-points saved by Nadal and he holds. And it’s a big hold by the world number two.

Murray 2-1 Nadal
Murray absolutely larrups a forehand winner down the line before showing some dreamy touch, bringing Nadal into the net before putting him away with a cross-court backhand. Nadal looks irritable with one of the ball boys at the change of ends and he’s clearly rattled.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Murray unfurls another killer backhand before Nadal goes wide. Murray, to his anguish, misses out with a forehand that sits up and Nadal battles back to hold serve. Anyone betting against a deciding set?

Murray 1-0 Nadal
Murray’s been off the court for a ‘comfort break’, and this time Nadal decides not to go with him. Nadal is getting outgunned again from the back of the court and Murray looks fit as a butcher’s dog at the moment. Two unforced errors from Murray bring it back to 40-30, but he holds after Nadal puts a backhand return into the net.

Third set:

Murray 6-4 Nadal
Apparently Roger Federer’s not a fan of line-call challenges and Hawkeye, but I think it’s tremendous, it adds a bit of suspense to proceedings. Nadal unleashes a blistering forehand winner but is forced into an error by some more hustling from the baseline by Murray. Murray ambushes the Nadal second serve and puts away a backhand winner before Nadal goes long to hand the Scot two set points. Nadal saves the first, putting a backhand into the net, but he goes wide on the second and Murray leads again. Remarkable recovery by Murray – I thought he was a dead man after the second set.

Murray 5-4 Nadal
Two break-points for Nadal, the drop-volley not working for once for Murray. Murray saves the first with a hammer-like forehand and drags the game back to deuce with a booming serve. He then reads Nadal’s pick-up at the net and puts away a forehand down the line. A rare raid on the net brings dividends and Murray takes the game after a drawn-out line-call challenge by Nadal.

Murray 4-4 Nadal
Murray unleashes an absolute humdinger of a passing backhand – it’s quite possible a tennis ball has never been hit harder. Murray follows up with a tame backhand into the bottom of the net, after which he has a bit of a chuckle to himself. Not often you see the Scot crack a smile on court. Nadal holds and this is developing into all-out war without the guns.

Murray 4-3 Nadal
Murray holds serve with his 12th ace of the match. He’s right back in a contest he seemed to be limping out of just 10 minutes ago.

Murray 3-3 Nadal
A courageous effort from Murray who works himself into a 30-0 advantage, and sees his attempted winner bounce milimetres wide of the baseline. Next point, though, Nadal can only skid a volley into the net to give Murray two break points. The Scot takes the opportunity at the first time of asking to level the scores. Fair play to him, he’s got his game right back in order.

Murray 2-3 Nadal
Murray may be struggling with his service game, but his touch at the net and his winners from the back of the court have not deserted him. He holds serve and lets Nadal know that he won’t get things his own way.

Murray 1-3 Nadal
Murray ceratinly hasn’t given this up. He plays some delightful touch volleys to go 30-0 in front but lets Nadal back in. The 19-year-old bellows out a long “nooooooo” like a cartoon character who has locked himself out of the house. Nadal seems to be in control now, dictating the pace and direction of play.

Murray 1-2 Nadal
Murray’s serve is a shadow of what we saw in the first set. A double fault gives Nadal a break point – and another double fault hands the early break to his opponent. Murray seems at odds with himself, but there is still no sign of a trainer coming on court to take a look at him.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Even the net cords are against Murray at the moment. In the first set the ball was wrong-footing Nadal off the rope, but the tennis gods are favouring the Spaniard now. Nadal scarcely needs any more assistance as he holds with aplomb.

Murray 1-0 Nadal
Murray hits two aces and throws in a smart overhead volley to take the opening game of the third set. It’s better stuff than we’ve seen from him for a little while in this match, but Nadal is looking ominously strong on his returns.

Second set:

Murray 4-6 Nadal
Murray is clutching his right side between games and I’m not sure if he hasn’t done himself a mischief. Just like that, the Scot has gone flat and it looks like he’s got tears in his eyes. Not sure why he doesn’t grab a medical break. Nadal takes an easy service game and that’s the set. Sorry folks, but this isn’t looking good for the Scot.

Murray 4-5 Nadal
A tame backhand from Murray makes it 0-30 to Nadal but a wonderful lunging backhand volley brings him back into the game. However, another backhand into the net makes it two more break-points to Nadal and Murray serves up a double-fault on the first.

Murray 4-4 Nadal
Murray spots an insect and some poor kid has to carry it off court. Brave – I’ve been to Australia, there are bugs over there the size of badgers. More class from Murray brings the game back to 40-30, leaving Nadal for dead with a deft backhand volley. But Nadal does level the set and he looks like he’s about to step up a gear. Time to gird your loins Andy…

Murray 4-3 Nadal
Nadal sending out distress signals now, peering into the crowd after another sliced winner from Murray. However, Nadal is made of seriously stern stuff and creates a break-point with a vicious backhand return. Touché from Murray, rendering Nadal statue-like with an audacious backhand winner of his own. However, Nadal does break, Murray going well long with a wild backhand. It would be easy to call this a slugging match, but it’s more like watching the two Sugars, Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard, go at it for 15 rounds. Craft and touch in every game.

Murray 4-2 Nadal
A winner at the net greeted by a rare fist-pump from Nadal, but Murray hauls himself back into the game with a typically-cheeky drop-shot. Nadal then challenges a line-call, and is proved correct by Hawkeye, before clinching the game. A pretty comfortable service game for Nadal, and that will be a relief to him at this stage.

“Murray is making Nadal look like an average player, which is staggering. It’s mind-boggling how well he’s playing. But it’s only early days…”
John Lloyd on BBC Two

Murray 4-1 Nadal
A peachy backhand lob from Nadal is only the prelude to the rally of the match so far, both players dinking and nudging away before Murray wins the point with a deep, searching forehand. Murray holds and his coach Brad Gilbert, sat in the stands, looks as astounded as everyone else.

Murray 3-1 Nadal
Feel the power, Rafael – the Spaniard is left wafting behind the baseline by a muscular forehand return from Murray. Murray then plays a dreamy little half-volley off his toes to make it 40-30 before taking the game to deuce with a chunky forehand approach. Nadal is outhustled again at deuce and Nadal hands Murray the game with a tame forehand into the net. First break of the match by Murray and Nadal finds himself knees deep in a war.

Murray 2-1 Nadal
A couple of unforced errors from Murray bring up two break points for Nadal. Murray saves both, the second with a Henman-esque backhand volley that leaves Nadal in knots at the back of the court. Nadal fluffs a backhand volley as Murray takes advantage and the Scot holds with an ace. Gutsy Andy, very gutsy.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Murray puts some manners on a forehand winner and – whisper it very quietly – Nadal is being bullied at the moment. Murray is climbing all over Nadal, pouncing on a short serve and thumping a backhand straight past the Spaniard. However, Nadal saves all three break points, staying alive with a fizzing backhand pass on the last. Nadal leaves Murray rooted with a forehand winner before putting away a poor drop-shot to save serve. Nadal pumping that fist for the first time and that was a missed opportunity for Murray.

Murray 1-0 Nadal
Players are off to the throne. Not sure who decided they wanted a ‘comfort break’ first, but I suspect it was Nadal, who has clearly been shaken up by his younger adversary. Nadal is all over the shop at the moment, framing two service returns in a row. A very comfortable service game from Murray and the Scot has not been bumped out of his groove by that short break after the first set.

First set:

“It’s going to plan, he’s messing with Nadal’s mind. But don’t think this is going to be a straight sets victory…”
Andrew Castle on BBC Two

Murray 7-6 Nadal
Murray gets the first mini-break and follows up with another ace out wide. He finds the bottom of the net with a tame backhand and Nadal moves 3-2 ahead. Murray levels things with another wide ace before making his first challenge of the match, a successful one against a Nadal second serve. Murray catches Nadal out with a deep, searching forehand before Nadal puts a backhand volley well wide. Three set points for Murray. He challenges a Nadal backhand on the first and, indeed, is was out. First blood to Murray and the Spaniard is clearly rattled.

Murray 6-6 Nadal
Murray hands Nadal the first break-point of the match with a tame sliced backhand into the net but saves with a slamming forehand at the net. He follows up with another whipped forehand winner before finding the net with a backhand into the net. Murray leaves Nadal for dead with another forehand winner before outhustling the Spaniard to take the set into a tie-break.

“Murray’s play so far is a level above anything we’ve seen in his previous three matches.”
John Lloyd on BBC Two

Murray 5-6 Nadal
Extraordinary shot from Nadal, digging out what looks like a Murray winner and leaving the Scot for dead. Nadal then gets the better of a lengthy exchange, leading to some fruity language from Murray. Another easy save from Nadal and Murray needs to win his service game to save the set.

Murray 5-5 Nadal
Strange atmosphere in the Rod Laver Arena, like a shopping arcade. Murray sends down another booming ace before getting a slice of luck, a net-cord plopping safely over the other side. Murray then outhustles Nadal, playing a drop-shot to bring Nadal into the net before putting in the lob. Another solid service game from Murray.

Murray 4-5 Nadal
Nadal, the ultimate baseline warrior, is happy to serve and volley so far, looking very comfortable in putting away a backhand at the net. Nadal moves into a 40-0 lead before Murray pounces on a couple of Nadal second serves to make it deuce. Nadal, however, clinches the game with a dipping cross-court backhand that leaves Murray floundering in no-man’s land.

Murray 4-4 Nadal
Murray is getting plenty of support from the Aussie fans – the fact he’s a Scot and not an Englishman will no doubt have something to do with that. Very comfortable hold by Murray and this opening set is hurtling towards a tie-break fast.

Murray 3-4 Nadal
Nadal gets a lucky net-cord, the ball ricocheting over Murray’s outstretched racket and the Spaniard is finding things pretty easy on his serve. Another win to love, Nadal wrapping things up with a heat-seeking backhand down the line.

Murray 3-3 Nadal
Cute drop-volley by Murray before Nadal gets the better of the Scot after an exchange at the net, fetching a lob and putting the ball away on the turn. Murray then sends down his first ace of the day before Nadal takes the game to deuce with a meaty return. Another ace by Murray (207kph) and Nadal gives up the game with a long forehand. Murray is holding his own so far.

Murray 2-3 Nadal
Nadal is no mug at the net and demonstrates this with a neat stop-volley. Murray is not making much inroads on the Nadal serve and the world number two seals the game with a well-executed backhand volley.

Murray 2-2 Nadal
Nadal goes 0-15 with a wicked backhand winner straight down the line but Murray, mixing it up as he’ll need to, comes to the net to make it 15-15 with a backhand volley. Murray is then outhustled by Nadal from the back of the court, but the Scot is sticking in there, leaving Nadal flat-footed with a fine backhand winner before clinching the game with an overhead.

Murray 1-2 Nadal
Nadal is looking in uncompromising mood and sends down his first ace on his way to another routine service game.

Murray 1-1 Nadal
Another lengthy exchange, Murray drawing Nadal away from the baseline and the Spaniard finding the net with his forehand volley. Murray then puts Nadal away with a bit of touch around the net before Nadal punishes a poorly-executed drop-volley. But Murray seals the game with a pearling forehand down the line which leaves Nadal rooted.

Murray 0-1 Nadal
Nadal to serve first and he wins the opening point, a lengthy exchange from the back of the court. Pretty routine service game for the world number two and a sluggish start from Murray.

1055 GMT: Players knocking up now and Murray, despite his recent physical advances, looks like a little boy next to the muscle-bound Nadal. The last British player to reach the last eight at the Australian Open was John Lloyd – he got his backside handed to him by Ivan Lendl back in the day.

1048 GMT: Nadal bounces from side to side like a welterweight as he faces Murray at the net, Murray stares back unmoved. Apparently the Aussie fans have nicknamed Murray ‘Muzzer’. Genius, absolute genius.

1045 GMT: Players enter the Rod Laver Arena, Murray looking the more pensive. Nadal is wearing a rascal of an outfit – yellow tanktop, headband and some camo shorts. He looks like a holiday rep.

Story from BBC SPORT


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