Wimbledon 2011: Rafael Nadal beats Andy Murray in semis

By Piers NewberyBBC Sport at Wimbledon

Rafael Nadal ended the Wimbledon hopes of British number one Andy Murray for the second year in a row with a four-set victory in their semi-final.

The defending champion from Spain came through 5-7 6-2 6-2 6-4 and will play Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final.

And while Nadal targets a third Wimbledon and 11th Grand Slam win, Murray is still without a major title.

The Scot has now lost three successive Wimbledon semi-finals, and the wait for a British champion goes on.

Fred Perry remains the last homegrown men's singles champion with his 1936 triumph, and there is every chance that Murray will one day have to find a way past Nadal - one year his senior at 25 - if he is to ever get his hands on the Wimbledon trophy.

Murray had won only four of his previous 15 matches against Nadal, and lost in straight sets at the same stage of Wimbledon last year.

There was an early scare for the Briton when the trainer was called at 2-1 to deliver pain killers as a hip injury appeared to have flared up, but he waved the assistance away when he returned at the next changeover.

A first half-chance came for Murray at 3-2, 30-30, but he missed with a forehand and it was Nadal who then pressed hard at 5-5, twice getting to deuce in a lengthy game.

A tie-break loomed but Nadal, who came into the match with a lingering foot injury, played a loose game at 5-6 to fall 0-40 down, and gave up the set with a backhand into the net.

The momentum was well and truly with Murray and he had a great chance at 2-1, 15-30, in the second set but fired an inviting mid-court forehand long and it appeared to derail him.

A double-fault gave Nadal a break point in the following game and Murray blazed a smash over the baseline to fall 3-2 behind, before another sloppy service game all but handed over the set.

It might only have been one set all, but Murray's hopes seemed to be hanging in the balance as early as the start of the third and, after saving two break points with a volley and an ace, he missed with a forehand on the third to lose his sixth straight game.

Nadal was in the groove now and made it seven in a row, clamping down on unforced errors to such an extent that a loose forehand at 3-2 was his first since the opening set.

The Spaniard powered through the rest of the set and tore into Murray at the start of the fourth, ripping a forehand down the line for 15-40 and getting the break when the Briton netted a forehand.

Murray had a lifeline with two break points in game four but Nadal chose the moment to attack the net and volley into the open court, before pummelling his way to safety with some heavy forehands on the second.

Nadal will lose his number one ranking to Djokovic no matter the result of Sunday's final, but he looked supreme as he finished off Murray after nearly three hours and extended his winning run at Wimbledon to 20 matches.

"For me it is really a dream to be back in the final for another time," Nadal told BBC Sport. "I'm very happy for everything but seriously, I feel sad for Andy, he deserves to be in this final.

"It's tough for him to lose this match today but I wish him all the best for the rest of the year, all the best especially for the US Open.

"I think I played very well to win against Andy. Only playing my best tennis would I have any chance, and I played today my best tennis. Always it's an honour to play against him, he's a great champion, and to beat him the only way is to play really aggressive and play fantastic shots, and probably I did that today."

Nadal added: "He played fantastic at the beginning but he had an important mistake at the beginning of the second set, at 15-30 an easy forehand he played long, and probably that was one of the turning points of the match."

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