Nick Bollettieri: Murray has time on his side and there is much more to come

The Wimbledon Files

Too darn good. Sometimes you just have to raise your hands and say you were beaten by a better man and that's what Andy Murray had to do yesterday.

The Briton gave almost the best of himself – while letting a few, key chances get away – but in all honesty I think that Rafael Nadal's form is just so hot, even a top-level Murray performance would probably not have been good enough.

Before we consider all the positives for Murray going forward, let's consider just how awesome Nadal was yesterday. In the whole first set he made one unforced error. One. That is close to perfection, something rarely seen in our sport. In the third set he made two unforced errors. This is laughably, fantastically brilliant. And in the middle set, Rafa made 11 unforced errors for a total in the match of 14. Murray made 19 in all, spread evenly.

We can talk for hours about Nadal's strengths and they were there for all to see: power, movement, even bending the ball to his will at times. Nadal has seven Slam titles already, he hasn't lost to anyone but the GOAT (Roger Federer) at Wimbledon since 2005, and will probably have eight Slams and a second Wimbledon by sundown tomorrow.

That is the context to understand Murray's performance. Just a few key points made the difference, certainly in the first two sets. In fact, Murray won more points in the second set, 42-41. The crucial break in the first set came from a rare double-fault (nerves?) and a moment of hesitancy, which meant hitting wide and handing Nadal the break. That was the difference in that set.

The difference in the second set for me was at 6-5 to Murray in the breaker, and serving. He put his first one in the net, which was a shame on a day when his serving was generally brilliant. In a point started on the second serve, Murray was punished by a Nadal low, backhand cross-court volley to earn a reprieve at 6- 6.

An unlucky net-cord pass made it 7-6 to Rafa, who then served out. Again, small differences, but hugely significant. Rafa played the big points better, as great champions tend to do.

By the third set, Murray broke but Rafa still had gears to click up through, and when he did, he brought it home. Murray, by now a little deflated (understandably), could hold out no longer.

So, what next for Murray? Good things, surely. He's still in the ascendant, something that can't be said for Federer. Murray is still young, 23, and there are years of Slam opportunities opening up in front of him. He's been a real contender at this Wimbledon, and I see no reason, physical, technical or mental, why he cannot continue to be a contender for years to come.

Winning a Slam is never easy. Think about it: a man as talented as Andy Roddick has just one to his name. Murray will improve for his experiences in the four Slam semis and the two finals. There's much more to come.

Men's Final: Tomas Berdych v Rafael Nadal

Nadal's grace and power will topple Czech

So we've got a brutally consistent baseliner against a monster talent capable of ferocious force. Berdych is the former, of course, standing 6ft 5in tall and in possession of that enormous serve and those pounding, flat groundies. His chance lies in demolition tactics, hoping that his serve never waivers, in which case we'll get tie-breakers, and your big server is generally going to be favoured in breakers.

But Nadal is a different class of opponent. That leftie serve is big in its own right and consistent, and dangerous for all the usual leftie reasons. His movement is absolutely phenomenal. Points that would be winners against any other man on tour cannot be counted as winners against Nadal until his feet have stopped moving in the chase and he hasn't reached it.

For all the brutality of Nadal's strokes, he can also be so, so graceful in the execution of drop shots, either killing points softly but surely or luring opponents in and then hammering a passing shot with savage power. The man is a colossus and if he's fit – and he says his knee his fine – then it will take some incredible performance to overcome him.

This pair have met on 10 previous occasions and Berdych had all three of his wins within their first four meetings in 2005 and 2006. They're the same age – 24 – and while Nadal more than lived up to his youthful billing, Berdych has taken longer to shine. Nadal has won the last six meetings on the trot, however.

Nadal has the big-stage experience, and temperament. Bombs from the baseline will only get Berdych so far. I think they might get him a set, at most, but I take Rafa to cement his position as the world's best player.

Head-to-Head: Tomas Berdych v Rafael Nadal

Czech / Nationality / Spanish

24 / Age / 24

Monaco / Residence / Majorca

2002 / Turned Pro / 2001

Right-handed / Plays / Left-handed

6ft 5in / Height / 6ft 1in

No 13 / World ranking / No 1

5 / Career titles / 40

$6m / Career prize-money / $31.2m

W20 L6 / Wimbledon record / W28 L4

Final (2010) / Wimbledon best / W (2008)

Head-to-head: Nadal leads 7-3

5-2 / Odds / 1-3

Bollettieri's prediction: Nadal in four

News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Caption competition
Caption competition
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.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine