Nick Bollettieri: Murray must attack to stand chance in what will be a thriller

The Wimbledon files

OK, let's state the obvious first. This is a huge match for Andy Murray and he could not be facing a tougher opponent than Rafa Nadal, a dream of a tennis player. Boy has the Spaniard got it all. He is unique.

But it's not just the opponent on the other side of the net that Murray has to deal with today. There's the expectation and, man, does Wimbledon, heck Britain, expect. It's been a long wait, hasn't it, guys?

The good thing for Murray is that watching him over the past two weeks, actually let's throw the French Open into the hat as well, he's been mighty impressive. And that's not only for the way he has been hitting the ball, it's been the way he's walked the walk too. This is a guy heading towards his peak.

Murray is a character. There are times he reminds me of Andre Agassi, noticeably his ball-striking and the anticipation he shows in getting to the right place at just the right time. But even Andre would have had his hands full with Nadal.

Sometimes I watch Nadal and I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. His consistency in tournament after tournament is staggering and allied to that huge ability is his self-belief. Holy cow! He believes in himself to a degree that means every last inch of the court is his. He breaks all the rules of gravity and at the same time he has a certain rare gift you cannot teach. It is called passion, baby!

Let's line these guys up. Nadal hits his forehand with a ton of spin. Watch how when he runs wide he gets his racket head on the outside of the ball and delivers it down the line for a winner. Murray's forehand is steady. He will get most balls back and recently has added more of a killer approach. He too hits with plenty of spin.

While Nadal plays left-handed, he is in life a righty and this adds an edge to his game. This extra strength and coordination in his right hand makes his backhand lethal and allows him to hit high balls while off balance. Murray has one of the best backhands in the game. His balance and body control enable him to do just about anything he wants from this wing.

When it comes to the serve, Nadal has a tremendous advantage being a lefty. He can take his opponent out wide when serving to the advantage side and he can serve into his opponent's body when serving to the deuce court, making it difficult for righties to open up their big forehands. Murray's serve is much improved and it brings him more free points and defensive returns than it used to.

A feature of the modern game is movement and nobody gets around better than Nadal. Lightning. It all starts with him feeling and knowing he can get to any ball. At the same time, Murray is an excellent mover and is up there with the top guys.

Nadal has a good sense of position. He likes to stand a few feet beyond the baseline but is quick to come in and with his movement he can get around. Now here is an area Murray needs to improve. I've said it regularly over the last couple of weeks – you cannot win a Grand Slam from way behind the baseline. Murray has a tendency to stand too far back and, even though he gets to every ball, his opponent can retrieve his returns. It is getting better and his attacking game is much more obvious these days. He will not win this match from the baseline and has to go at Nadal, surprise the guy. Force the issue, Andy – go on.

Nadal is one of the best, though, and that is why when you have to pick a winner I have to come down on his side – just. I tell you, this is not a match to miss. Hell, if I were you I would call in sick just to make sure you catch it.

Today's big match

Andy Murray v Rafael Nadal

How they match up:



British Nationality Spanish

24 Age 25

London Residence Mallorca

Right-handed Plays Left-handed

6ft 3in Height 6ft 1in

4 World ranking 1

17 Career titles 46

$16m Career prize-money $41.8m

W28 L5 Wimbledon record W34 L4

(3) Wimbledon best Winner (2)

W4 L11 Head-to-head W11 L4

7-4 Odds 4-9

Bollettieri's prediction: Nadal in five

Coaching Report: I am proud of what both my academy women achieved

Maria Sharapova v Sabine Lisicki

She's cool. That's what I said about Maria Sharapova before yesterday's semi-final against Sabine Lisicki: she's always cool. And that's what we saw on Centre yesterday. The head of Sharapova got her through to tomorrow's final.

Even when she saw those first three games slip by with her serve all over the place, what could we see? Cool, man. You looked at her and you did not see a flicker of concern. She kept her head and that helped the form come back.

Once she got going there was no stopping her. But let's pay credit to Lisicki. It wasn't her day – a first taste of such a huge stage and she did not have enough to stop the Sharapova steamroller yesterday. Look what she's accomplished over the last two weeks from being given a wildcard – well done, girl. We are all proud of you back here at the academy.

The thing about Maria is that when she gets on that big stage, that is when she is at her most dangerous. She is a tough opponent to beat mentally. She is switched on. When her serve was not working she took on Lisicki with her groundstrokes. Now this is an area in which Lisicki would expect to come out on top against most opponents, but not yesterday. No, sir.

Bang, bang went Sharapova's forehand and back went Lisicki she was forced on to the defensive and that is not her natural game. When she got Lisicki on to that back foot it meant Sharapova was almost unbeatable.

In the rallies, you would have expected Lisicki to prosper the longer they went on – that is what has happened in the earlier stages of the tournament and against some pretty big name players, too. Li Na could not deal with Lisicki's power and she was fresh out of Paris with a Grand Slam trophy tucked away in her kit bag. But Sabine never got into that rhythm yesterday and there were few signs of that lovely drop shot that has given me such joy over the course of the tournament. And that was because Maria was sure as hell not going to let her get into the match like that.

Sharapova will take some stopping now. I have seen it from the first time she came to my academy all those years ago – when she gets on a roll, this is one hell of a tennis player and Petra Kvitova will have to be at her absolute energetic best to cause her any problems tomorrow.

Mr B's A-Zee

U is for US Open. Now I love Wimbledon – absolutely love everything about it, from the tradition to the grass and the ballboys and girls, but here's a confession: if you were to push me, I would have to admit my absolute favourite tournament is the US Open.



V is for volley. Man, do I love a volley and there is no better place for it than Wimbledon. In this day of baseliners it is becoming a rare thing but never forget what Becker, Sampras, McEnroe and Co achieved here with that shot.

Win a week at my academy

Want a week's tennis holiday at my IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida? Included in the prize is five days' top-class tuition. The prize can be for an adult wanting to shape up his or her game, or for a child who wants to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Andre Agassi, Monica Seles and Maria Sharapova, among other players who went from being kids under my tuition to No 1 in the world.

What you have to do is answer this question: How long will Andy Murray's match last today – the total number of minutes? Send me your answer to: bolly@independent.co.uk and the correct one will win a signed hat or T-shirt.

I'll be putting a question every day and all the winners will go into the hat for the big prize to be drawn at the end of the fortnight: a week at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Academy. Wednesday's winner was Colin Swinfin.

Coaching tip of the day

The game is full of baseliners today so how do you get the better of them? To start with, serve at their body to try to tie up your opponent. Run like hell – the more you return, the harder they will try to hit it, so errors can creep in. Don't try and match them for power, instead try things like hitting deep with plenty of topspin.

Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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.

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot