Hopes of British champion are dashed again by Nadal victory

For the third year in a row hopes were high, and for the third year in a row hopes were dashed. Andy Murray is out of Wimbledon.

Britain’s top tennis player lost in four sets to defending champion Rafael Nadal last night in a tense semi-final on Centre Court.

It was the third consecutive semi-final defeat at Wimbledon for Murray, who was bidding to become the first British man to win the title since Fred Perry 75 years ago.

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The 24-year-old Scot was cheered on by a 15,000-capacity crowd, including his mother Judy and girlfriend Kim Sears, and 6,000 fans watching the match on a big screen outside on “Murray Mount”.

Another 4,000 spectators saw the game on Court Two’s scoreboard screen, and there was much to celebrate when Murray took the opening set in style.

But Nadal, 25, broke Murray’s serve early in the second set and gradually took control of the match, sealing victory in just under three hours with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win.

Speaking after the match, Murray admitted it would take him several days to get over the disappointment of losing at the semi-final stage yet again.

“It’s tough, it’s tough,” he said. “But I’m giving it my best shot each time. I’m trying my hardest. That’s all you can do.

“So I don’t know. It’s difficult to answer. I can’t explain exactly how I feel. I’m disappointed.”

Nadal, who beat Murray in straight sets in last year’s semi-final, will play Serb Novak Djokovic in tomorrow’s final. Djokovic beat the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four sets.

Today attention turns to the women’s final – and Petra Kvitova can rely on unlikely support from a Yorkshire school when she takes on former champion Maria Sharapova.

The 21-year-old player is from Fulnek, a Czech town from which settlers moved to Yorkshire more than 250 years ago and founded Fulneck School, in Pudsey.

Principal Trevor Kernohan said it was “extremely special” for the school that a well-known sporting star had links to the town.

“It has created a unique opportunity for our pupils to explore and celebrate the school’s heritage,” he said.