WEEKEND POLL: Murray dispirited as irresistible Nadal pounds him into the clay

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray yells in frustration on his way to a demoralising straight-sets defeat to Rafael Nadal (Picture: Michel Spingler/AP).

Wimbledon champion Andy Murray yells in frustration on his way to a demoralising straight-sets defeat to Rafael Nadal (Picture: Michel Spingler/AP).

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Andy Murray last night admitted it will be tough to recover from his French Open drubbing at the hands of Rafael Nadal.

The Wimbledon champion had looked in good nick in reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros for only the second time.

Again Nadal was his opponent, but unlike in 2011, when he gave the Spaniard a real test, Murray simply had no answers in a 6-3 6-2 6-1 defeat, his heaviest grand slam loss.

Nadal will attempt to win an unprecedented ninth French Open title and fifth in a row when he takes on Novak Djokovic in the final tomorrow.

Murray said: “He played a great match. He missed hardly any balls. He served very well.

“His forehand, especially with the conditions the way they were, 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.”

While Murray may want to lick his wounds, he must head straight home to London to begin preparing for the Aegon Championships at Queen’s Club next week.

He will defend his title there and then in just over two weeks he will step out on Centre Court as the defending champion at Wimbledon.

Murray said: “It’s difficult because I normally strike the ball fairly cleanly.

“(Yesterday) I was mis-hitting a lot of balls. It was incredibly frustrating. I wanted to play better and better as the match went on.

“In some ways you start trying too hard, and it doesn’t always appear that way. But you want to do stuff too badly, and you end up making more mistakes and things get worse.

“I never want to say forget about matches like this, but obviously the grass-court season starts in a couple of days and I need to switch my mind to that.”

Murray did not want to blame fatigue, but it was clear there was not the same energy about the Scot as there normally is when he plays his biggest rivals.

He had played two five-set matches for the first time at a grand slam in getting to the semi-finals, including the longest fifth set he had ever played, against Philipp Kohlschreiber in round three.

That was also Murray’s first five-set match since his back surgery last September and his physical stamina was not up to its usual standards.

He had spent four and a half hours longer on court than Nadal, but the 27-year-old knew he only had himself to blame after failing to finish matches as quickly as he should have, particularly against Kohlschreiber and then in his quarter-final against Gael Monfils.

Murray said: “I was in control of a lot of the matches that went longer than maybe they should have been. So if that did have anything to do with it, it was completely my fault.

“But ideally, playing against him on this surface, the way he’s hitting the ball, you have to do a lot of running, chase a lot of balls down. I couldn’t get enough back.”

One of the most damning statistics was that Murray won just 10 points on Nadal’s serve all match, forcing only one deuce.

“He served very close to the lines,” he said. “The ball was coming through the court quicker today.

“My timing was off on the returns. It is easy to just say, ‘Oh he served well and I missed quite a lot of returns’. But the problem is, if you don’t do anything with the return, he was just battering the next ball into the corner.”

Nadal becomes the first man to reach nine finals at a single grand slam and can become the first to win five successive French Open titles.

The world No 1 had said after beating David Ferrer in the quarter-finals that he was playing better in practice than he had for a year. He commented: “That’s the reason for the result (yesterday).

“Normally when you are playing well, then you are able to play with the right position and go on court with the right intensity. You can play at the same level that you are practising, so I think that’s something that I did.

“I think I played very well with my forehand. I think it was important to serve the way that I served. It’s true that for a player like Andy – he’s a big returner – he made more mistakes than usual on the return.

“But it’s true, too, that I made a lot of serves, and the first shot with my forehand started to be very positive because I am able to take the advantage from the first shot.

“Then if I am able to hit a few forehands in a row, probably not one month ago, but (yesterday) if I am able to hit a few forehands in a row, it’s true that normally I have a lot of chances.”

Djokovic reached his second French Open final with a four-set win over Ernests Gulbis. The Serbian, who is chasing the one grand slam title still to elude him, snuffed out a fightback by his Latvian opponent to win 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3.

Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in the final in 2012, becomes just the sixth man in the Open era to make multiple finals at each slam.

The consolation for Gulbis after the best grand slam tournament of his career is he will make his top-10 debut when the rankings are updated on Monday.

Marion Bartoli will join fellow Wimbledon champion Andy Murray at Queen’s Club on June 15 for Rally For Bally.

Three exhibition matches are being held on the same day at Queen’s, Edgbaston and Eastbourne to raise money in memory of former British No 1 Elena Baltacha, who died of liver cancer last month aged 30.

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