Former champion Rafael Nadal ruthlessly postponed the dream of a possible British men’s Wimbledon winner for another year with his his 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 defeat of Andy Murray in the semifinals on Friday.
The victory put the Spanish world number one into his fourth final at the All England club, where he was unable to defend his 2008 trophy last year, missing the event with an injured knee.
Murray had been hoping to reach the final against Czech Tomas Berdych, who upset Serb third seed Novak Djokovic 6-3, 7-6 (11-9), 6-3.
But the title drought for the home nation will now stretch to 75 years to the 2011 edition, with Fred Perry the last British champion in 1936.
“I had chances in all of the sets, it was a difference of five or six points in the match,” said Murray. “He just played better than me.
“You’re not going to play every point your terms against one of the best ever. There were periods when we both dictated. He didn’t have a break point until the last few games, so I was obviously doing something right.
“I’m annoyed I lost this match, I wanted to reach my first final here.” Seven-time Grand Slam champion Nadal called the win “a very, very good match. To beat Andy you have to play your best tennis. This is an amazing victory against one of the toughest opponents.” Murray’s dream died as Nadal poured on pressure to claim the first two sets — the second in a tiebreaker — but going down a break to start the third.
That edge gave Murray hope, but it was dashed in the eighth game when Nadal got it back to level for 4 apiece.
From then on, the second seed smelled blood. He moved through after two hour, 21 minutes as Murray dropped serve to hand over the victory, firing a forehand return long over the baseline.
“Winning on the clay and especially again at Roland Garros gave me a lot of confidence,” said Nadal.