French Open 2014: Rafael Nadal crushes Andy Murray in straight sets to reach final
Last Updated: 07/06/14 4:01pm
Rafael Nadal made short work of Andy Murray in their French Open semi-final, polishing off a 6-3 6-2 6-1 victory in just 100 minutes of one-sided action.
The Spanish top seed is bidding for a ninth French Open title in 10 years and his fifth in succession. He will face Serbia's Novak Djokovic in Sunday's dream final.
Reaching the last four had exceeded many people's expectations for Murray, although he insisted not his own, but he appeared to completely run out of steam.
Nadal was never under the slightest pressure and Murray won just 10 points on his opponent's serve in hot and sunny day in Paris, the conditions Nadal loves best, and it was the Spaniard who proved too strong.
I think that today I played my best tennis at Roland Garros this year.
"I think that today I played my best tennis at Roland Garros this year," said Nadal.
"After 10 years of coming here and to be back in the final for the ninth time - it's something I never believed would happen in my life.
"He (Djokovic) is an unbelievable opponent. He is always a big challenge and I need to play at my very best. He beat me the last few times we played."
There was no disguising the size of the task that faced Murray when he walked out onto Court Philippe Chatrier.
Nadal had lost just one of his 65 matches at Roland Garros and none of the last 33.
He had beaten Murray in straight sets when they met in the last four here three years ago, while the Scot had only beaten one top-10 opponent on clay in his career.
Murray had also spent four and a half hours longer on court than Nadal having played his first two five-set matches since back surgery.
Murray won a 22-shot rally on the first point but quickly found himself 3-0 down before steadying the ship to hold serve.
The pair had met for the first time in nearly three years in Rome three weeks ago, and Murray very nearly emerged victorious.
On that occasion he had blitzed Nadal in the first set but the conditions were cold and damp, helping Murray push the Spaniard back.
It was the British No 1 doing most of the chasing this time, and he could not find a way back into the set, Nadal serving out with ease.
It was a tough day for me. It was a bad, bad day. I'll need to bounce back quickly from it, because I'm not particularly happy with the way I played today.
Nadal's forehand, the extreme topspin sending the ball spitting off the clay, was simply ferocious.
The Wimbledon champion had hit his backhand with stunning power and timing in the previous two rounds but he did not seem to have enough energy to wrest any form of control away from Nadal.
The world No 1 was playing superbly and a Murray forehand wide gave him a break for 2-1 in the second set.
Nadal had revealed earlier in the tournament that the back pain that so compromised him in the Australian Open final against Stan Wawrinka had returned, forcing him to take some pace off his serve.
But there was nothing wrong with his serve on Friday, Murray managing just six points against it in the first seven games.
Nadal was winning so comfortably that the atmosphere was completely flat, and the top seed moved further ahead with another break for 5-2.
That quickly became a two-set lead as Nadal served out to love.
Murray's hopes of a comeback appeared to be virtually nil, and even more so when Nadal broke serve once more for 2-1.
Murray could have been forgiven for just wanting the torture to end as quickly as possible, and Nadal moved closer with another break to lead 4-1.
Murray tried desperately to hold onto his serve one more time but to no avail, Nadal clinching victory on his first match point with a simple smash.
"He played a great match. He missed hardly any balls. He served very well," said Murray.
"His forehand, especially with the conditions the way they were today, it was incredibly hard to control the ball. As soon as he was inside the court, he was hitting the ball so close to the line. He played great tennis.
"It was a tough day for me. It was a bad, bad day. I'll need to bounce back quickly from it, because I'm not particularly happy with the way I played today."