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Rafael Nadal overcame the challenge of a feisty Andy Murray with a 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory to make his second consecutive US Open final. The semifinal was characteristically studded with some stunning pillar to post rallies, inspired play from either player and several highlight reel exchanges, but any sustained challenge from Murray was largely quelled by the irrepressible Nadal. Rafa kept a high level right through and rode out any spikes in Murray's performance to ease through although he did drop a set for the first time in the tournament. Nadal faces nemesis Novak Djokovic in the final on Monday in their 6th meeting this year. Djokovic earlier registered a heroic come from behind 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 over 5 time champion Roger Federer. For Murray it was once again a case of so near yet so far following the latest heartbreaker to Nadal at this stage of a slam.
Rafael Nadal & Andy Murray have played many exhilarating matches in the past. Matches that have swung both ways, featured excellent corner to corner rallies and contests that have gone down to the wire. With their complementary counter punching styles, their's is a match up built for watchability. They came in though having to live up to the heroics and drama of the Federer â€“ Djokovic clash. They began in right earnest with their characteristic end to end rallies, with Murray even playing a delectable drop shot, lob, drop shot combination to stir up the crowd. Nadal meanwhile was showing early signs of wanting to dominate using his lethal heavy inside out forehand to open up the points. That willingness coupled with Murray's innate vulnerability gave the Spaniard a breakpoint in the 3rd game of the match â€“ early inroads on the Murray serve. Murray held on as did the Spaniard when Murray created a break point of his own in the 6th game. The 7th game is widely regarded as the pivotal one in the set and this particular 7th game certainly lived up to its billing. A precisely measured lob followed by a couple of wild groundstrokes gave Nadal 3 break points which he converted to draw first blood going up a break 4-3. The break seemed to disrupt Murray's rhythm but he held on to force Nadal to serve out the set at 5-4. Nadal proceeded to do precisely that as he held without ado to take a vital lead.
Murray had never once beaten Nadal having lost the opening set putting him at a historically disadvantageous situation straightaway. The Brit began the set in right earnest though as he held and then stretched Nadal on his service game. In a long game that went on for about 10minutes, the Scot generated multiple breakpoints and several deuce situations but let them all slip through. One open backhand down the line that Murray netted on break point was particularly disappointing given that it is his best shot. Squandering of so many opportunities can often be frustrating and it showed as Murray began having almost Safinesque conversations with himself with every missed shot. He managed to not let it affect his creation of chances and he brought the crowd to their feet with a superb lob retrieval followed by a pick up forehand flick pass on the dead run to hold serve in the 3rd game. However, all that pent up anger would have to have an effect some time and in an effort to be more offensive, the Scot took it up a notch too much, netting an approach and spraying a volley wide to hand Nadal the break in the 5th game and control of their match. Nadal is well known for pressing home any advantage he gains and the Spaniard after another long Murray service game ruthlessly broke for 5-2. Nadal then served out the set 6-2 to take what certainly would seem to be an insurmountable 2 set lead.
Andy Murray has produced the comeback from 2 sets to love down 6 times in his career including one against Robin Haase in this very tournament. He set about it the right way, breaking Nadal in his opening service game of the third set. Murray's inherent fragility once again came to the fore as he promptly returned the hard earned break with a selection of errors. He wasted opportunities to restore the advantage and promptly berated himself - â€œPoor returningâ€ he kept repeating to himself. Meanwhile Nadal after the loss of form and concentration at the start of the set was beginning to regain his touch including an outrageously angled cross court forehand to level the third at 3-3. Murray seems to play his best when all seems lost and against the run of play, he broke Rafael Nadal courtesy a couple of big forehands in a superbly executed game to set up a 5-3 lead. He began well with an ace and a serve volley before a netted Nadal forehand gave the Brit hope back into the match taking the set 6-3.
Rafael Nadal began the 4th set fully aware that Andy Murray was just beginning to look dangerous and that he needed to raise his level a notch to avoid being pushed the distance. It took him a couple of games to dial it in and had to go through a brute of a 4th game just to hold serve. He then created a whole host of break points in the 5th game stretching Murray all the way. It ended with Murray whacking a high forehand long in a manner remarkably similar to the one at Wimbledon that burst the bubble he was in then. Rafa held immediately after that to consolidate the break leaving himself within touching distance of the finish line at 4-1. There was time after that for some more breathtaking exchanges with Murray receiving a particularly vociferous ovation after one particular rally where he sprinted the length of the diagonal to blitz a pass past Nadal. It was all to no avail for the Scot though as a final backhand drifted wide sent Nadal into the final 6/2 in the 4th.
The first semifinal contested earlier was a magnificent one. Federer and Djokovic traded heavyweight punches for much of the initial phases with Roger delivering the decisive blow in each of the first two sets. Swinging more freely, Djokovic however found his range and regained the impetus and duly wore down the older 5 time champion to restore parity at 2 sets apiece. The 5th set was microcosm of the entire match as a cagey initial exchange was broke open by Federer as he broke the Djokovic serve. Serving for the match, the 5 time champion held 2 match points when in an eerie replication of last year's contest, Djokovic once again stared down the two match points before turning things completely on their head. Riding the wave of adrenalin the Serb broke away a final time to end Federer's run in a superb climax.
 R.Nadal (ESP) def.  A.Murray (GBR) 6/4, 6/2, 3/6, 6/2
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