Tennis: Murray pushes Nadal aside in quarter-finals

Andy Murray moved within one match of his second grand slam final when he beat Rafael Nadal in today's Australian Open quarter-final in Melbourne.

The Spaniard fell two sets behind to the Dunblane player and three games in the third before he retired hurt with the score at 6-3, 7-6 (7-2), 3-0 - but make no mistake, this could not take the shine off Murray's performance for he had produced a strong and measured display. Even when the second set went to a tiebreak, he won that convincingly 7-2. At that point, there was no hint of any problems with Nadal's fitness.

Commenting on Murray's fantastic victory, Tennis Scotland Chief Executive David Marshall said, "Everyone is absolutely delighted with Andy's performances in Australia and his controlled and perfectly - executed defeat of Nadal gave the clearest indication yet that this could be his year.

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"It was obviously disappointing that Nadal had to retire but even before he picked up the injury, he looked to be struggling to handle Andy, who is playing the tennis of his life right now."

There was an electric atmosphere inside the Rod Laver Arena and the match started at a hectic pace. There was a spark about both players and the first key moment, a break point in Murray's second service game, saw both scampering to retrieve balls before Nadal pushed a backhand volley down the line to convert his chance. Murray hit back immediately with an exquisite lob after he had failed to take two earlier break-back opportunities.The match continued at break-neck speed as the fifth seed went 0-40 behind on his next service before saving all three break points with serve-volley.The Scot served it out and then broke again with a confident backhand cross-court winner to allow him a chance to serve for the set at 5-3.

The ebb and flow continued though as Nadal grabbed two break-back chances with a forehand which clipped the net and fell in. Murray saved them, the last with a backhand down the line, and eventually took the opener with his third set point when Nadal hit a backhand long.

The players traded service games before a ten-minute break was called due to the noise of a fireworks display over inner-city Melbourne to celebrate Australia Day. It failed to overshadow the cracking display on court and, when the players resumed, Murray was immediately broken, only for Nadal to concede the advantage straight back.The set progressed to 5-5 when yet another memorable game ensued on Nadal's service.

Nadal fought off four break points and with Murray chasing down everything he could throw at him the Mallorcan left-hander opted to come to the net and repel the danger with some delicate volleys. It was premium-standard tennis and fittingly the set went to a tie-break, where Murray defied the closeness of the contest to race into a 6-1 lead and with it five set points. He needed the second when Nadal dumped a backhand into the net.

Nadal took a five-minute medical time-out in the second game of the third set with the trainer working on his right knee. It was a worrying sight after the tendonitis the Spaniard suffered in both knees which undermined his last half of last year. Nadal returned but dropped the service game and when Murray held his next game to go 3-0 up the Spaniard walked up to the net and shook hands to concede the match because of the injury.

Murray will now play Marin Cilic, the player who knocked him out of the US Open last September, to reach his second major final.

"With Cilic standing between Andy and his second major final, I believe we can genuinely start believing 2010 will be the year he finally wins his first Grand Slam and once he does that – and hopefully it happens this weekend - it's sure to be the first of many," added Marshall. "When it does come, it will undoubtedly act as a huge boost for the game in this country. However, unless we have the infrastructure in place in terms of facilities, we could well end up in a position where we simply cannot cope with the resultant demand and while, in some ways, that would be a nice problem to have, it would mean that we would be able to maximize a once in a lifetime opportunity."