Andy Murray upsets Rafael Nadal in Rogers Cup slugfest
Maybe it was the surprise Saturday announcement that the province of Ontario will legalize MMA that had Rafael Nadal looking so out of sorts.
Maybe he doesn’t dig the stuff.
Whatever it was, for most of his two-set defeat at the hands of Scotland’s Andy Murray in an afternoon slugfest under overcast skies, Nadal lacked the spark and bullish insistence on dictating the match that had been his trademark while dominating the tennis world this year. Murray’s 6-3, 6-4 triumph destroyed the possibility that Nadal would face Roger Federer in a dream Sunday final at the Rogers Cup.
Nadal, the 2010 French Open and Wimbledon champion, briefly came to life in the second set, but for the most part Murray’s serve and return of serve were the difference as he defeated Nadal for only the fourth time in 12 career matches.
That said, Murray has beaten the Spaniard in four of their last seven matches, so perhaps the tide is turning as Nadal seeks to keep the world’s No. 1 ranking for a long stretch and Murray takes aim at his first Grand Slam title, perhaps next month at the U.S. Open in New York.
The hard-court season has traditionally not been kind to Nadal — sore knees kept him on the sidelines last summer — and he certainly didn’t look dominant in four matches at the Rogers Cup over the past week.
As Murray worked over the Nadal backhand with his heavy forehand attack, Nadal spent much of the day admonishing himself for either being wrong-footed or beaten to the punch on key rallies. Nadal won only 50 per cent of the points on his second serve, aced Murray only twice (the Scot had nine) and was matched by Murray in movement, a rarity for the fleet Nadal.
With the match being played under darkening rain clouds and the flight path of Pearson Airport — noisy jumbo jets distracted the players on several occasions — the match turned on the eighth game of the second after Nadal had sprung to life and pulled ahead 4-3.
Murray fell behind 15-40 on his serve with the crowd sensing a Nadal comeback, but instead Murray worked Nadal’s backhand to stay in the game and won it with two, big unreturned serves. He then broke Nadal in the next game to, for all intents and purposes, finish off his opponent.
After match point, Murray didn’t overtly celebrate. He just turned, clenched both fists and jogged to the net to shake hands with Nadal.