Sun, May 18, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Nadal edges past Murray in epic Rome quarter-final

MISTAKES:A disappointed Andy Murray said he ‘messed up a little’ against his opponent, saying he had the opportunities to win the tight quarter-final

AFP, ROME

Britain’s Andy Murray prepares to serve to Spain’s Rafael Nadal during their men’s singles quarter-final match at the Italian Open in Rome on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal dug deep to maintain his chances of defending his Rome Masters title after a gutsy come-from-behind 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Andy Murray in the quarter-finals on Friday.

Murray had won only five of his past 18 matches against Nadal, but held the bragging rights from their last two — a walkover win in the semis of the Miami Masters and victory in the final of the Tokyo Open in 2011, both hardcourt events.

Despite doubts lingering over the Scot’s claycourt form following an absence from the tour due to back surgery at the end of last year, Murray produced a stunning performance at the Foro Italico to underline his form ahead of the French Open later this month.

“I feel liked I’ve played good matches and given him [Nadal] a lot of problems,” Murray said. “I would have liked to have won tonight’s match because I had the opportunities. I just messed it up a little bit. You don’t get loads of chances ... so I’m disappointed at that.”

“But he finished the match very well. He won the last three games,” he added.

The Scot raced to a 6-1 win in the opening set, leaving claycourt kind Nadal to tinker with tactics in the second set in a bid to pull level.

In a much tighter third set, Nadal maintained his momentum by winning three breaks to two for Murray.

The Spaniard broke in the first game, only for Murray to break back immediately in a second game, which saw the Scot pull off a stunning pull-back shot which stunned Nadal and had the crowd in raptures.

“I don’t know how he hit the ball, you don’t expect a shot like this,” the Spaniard said.

It gave Murray some momentum of his own and the British No. 1 held serve to go 2-1 in front.

Both players held their serves in the next two games and with the score at 3-2 Murray raced to triple break point to break again and take a two-game lead after Nadal netted a return from a powerful serve.

Yet the Spaniard raised his game and broke back to level at 4-4.

Both players held serve over the next two games, but Nadal made the difference when he raced to triple break point in the 11th game before breaking for a third time in the set for a 6-5 lead and then serving out for the victory.

Nadal was to meet Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the semis yesterday, when No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic was to face Canada’s Milos Raonic.

Djokovic ousted David Ferrer 7-5, 4-6, 6-3, while Raonic claimed his last-four spot with a commanding 6-3, 5-7, 6-2 quarter-final win against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Meanwhile, Italy’s No. 10 seed Sara Errani stunned China’s No. 2 seed Li Na 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to set up a semi-final clash with Serbian sixth-seed Jelena Jankovic after she accounted for Agnieszka Radwanska, the third seed from Poland, 6-4, 6-4.

Errani and Jankovic were joined in the last four by Ana Ivanovic, although the Serbian 11th seed had to dig deep throughout a thrilling encounter with Carla Suarez Navarro before finally beating the Spaniard, seeded 13, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.

Ivanovic meets defending champion Serena Williams after she annihilated unseeded Chinese player Zhang Shuai 6-1, 6-3.

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