Murray out-muscled by Nadal

Andy Murray was tonight sent spinning out of Wimbledon at the hands of a merciless Rafael Nadal.

The Scot looked jaded from Monday's epic comeback against Richard Gasquet but there was no doubting his opponent's brilliance as the Spaniard wrapped up a 6-3 6-2 6-4 victory to reach the semi-finals.

Murray had boasted about his fitness and physique throughout the championships but there was only one muscle man on Centre Court as Nadal pounded him into submission.

Playing his first grand slam quarter-final, the Scot never got to grips with the Nadal serve or forehand, never once looking like creating a break point, while the Spaniard lapped up another inconsistent Murray service display.

On a rain-hit day, the match did not get under way until 6.17pm, with every chance the match might not be completed this evening.

The Scot could ill afford the sort of start he made against Gasquet on Monday, with Nadal extremely likely to choke in the manner of the mercurial Frenchman.

The chief concern was the Murray serve and if he was in any doubt how consistent it would need to be, Nadal let him know by ripping a return winner off his first second serve of the match in game two.

Murray failed to heed the warning and needed some big serving to save two break points in game six.

He looked to have done the same in his next service game but a glaring smash error gifted Nadal the break and the second seed served out the set with ease.

Murray was looking for his first win over four-time French Open champion Nadal, whose three head-to-head successes included a five-set thriller at last year's Australian Open.

The Scot was taken to deuce in his opening service game of the second set but held thanks in part to his first successful drop shot, a tactic his opponent had already used three times to good effect.

The mix of Nadal winners and Murray errors was not encouraging and the Spaniard broke to love in game three when the 12th seed double-faulted.

Nadal's vicious forehand was giving Murray all sorts of problems and the Scot had to call upon three big first serves to avoid the double break in game five.

Murray was looking jaded and the crowd were equally subdued, Nadal's exhibition of power hitting and wonderful winners seeing him break to love in game seven.

There was a chink of light when Nadal let a 40-0 lead slip with a double-fault when serving for the set, but it was the tiniest of blips as the Spaniard took a two-set lead.

Murray was now relying on staging the kind of amazing comeback he produced against Gasquet but Nadal had previously lost only once from this position - to Roger Federer.

Murray was no nearer to solving the riddle of the Nadal serve, against which he had won only a handful of points.

The Spaniard was reading Murray's like a book but the Scot was staying in touch after thanks to a couple of timely approaches to net.

An uncharacteristic error from Nadal opened the door in game four but he shut it just as quickly.

And he had another two break points in the next game, but for once his trusty forehand let him down as the crowd began to get behind Murray.

But the Scot did himself no favours, dropping his serve from a winning position with some sloppy play in game seven.

Now he had to break Nadal to stay alive but he was no nearer in game eight and needed to win the point of the match with a superb pick-up the following game to make the Spaniard serve it out.

But unlike Gasquet on Monday, there was no collapse as Nadal moved ominously towards a third straight Wimbledon final.

Nadal admitted he was surprised to win in straight sets, telling BBC1: "I played probably my best match here. Against a difficult opponent like Andy I tried to play very aggressively all the time, tried to hit with big power and attack his second serve.

"A win like this is always surprising against a player like Andy because he was coming in with confidence after an unbelievable comeback against Gasquet. I'm very happy to be in the semi-finals, especially after beating one tough player like today.

"Probably he felt a little bit tired, it's always tough in the grand slams when you are playing tough matches like against Gasquet, that's normal."

But the Spanish star also praised Murray, adding: "I think he is very good, if he plays tennis like this he's going to be in the top five very soon and for sure he has good chances to win here at Wimbledon."

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence