Rafael Nadal moved to within one win of equalling Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open titles with a hard-fought yet convincing 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 semi-final win over a battling Andy Murray.
It was a perfect way to celebrate his 25th birthday for the Spaniard, but he was made to scrap hard by the Scot who shrugged off the effects of an ankle injury to produce his best ever performance on clay.
For Murray, seeded four, his feisty performance was a fitting way to end a brave campaign that saw him battle through illness, a twisted ankle and a broken tooth as he continued his quest for a first Grand Slam title.
“Andy is a fantastic player, he deserves to win a Grand Slam very soon,” said Nadal. “I saved a lot of break points at important moments. The conditions were not easy with the wind changing a lot.”
Nadal went into the match as a strong favourite having taken his record at Roland Garros to 43-1 with an impressive straight sets quarter-final victory over Robin Soderling, the only man to have beaten him here.
Murray was playing his first French Open semi-final in his fifth campaign in Paris and he had lingering doubts over the right ankle he turned in his third round defeat of Michael Berrer. The first four games were closely fought and took 28 minutes to complete but by the end of them Nadal had taken a 3-1 lead after Murray failed to convert the three break points he had.
Although the second set went a bit closer, it was all over as Murray began to tire, leaving the Spaniard to seal the win in straight sets and storm through to his sixth final in seven years at Roland Garros.
Mirza thwarted in title bid
India’s Sania Mirza and Russia’s Elena Vesnina were thwarted in their attempt to capture the French Open women’s doubles title.
The seventh-seeds were defeated 6-4, 6-3 by unseeded Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the final. Mirza had been hoping to add the title to her 2009 Australian Open mixed doubles title which she had won with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 4th, 2011.