Rafael Nadal Slams Roddick, Andy Murray Downs Isner

2011 US Open
By Hiland Doolittle, September 10th, 2011
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

Murray will have his third semifinal shot at Nadal in a 2011 major. Nadal defeated the Scotsman at Roland Garros and then at Wimbledon.

Murray had first to deal with big John Isner’s booming serve that had carried him to the quarterfinals. Murray’s tough 7-5, 6-4, 3-7, 7-6 (2) triumph was a battle all the way. The win moved Murray into an interesting class, as he becomes just the seventh player to reach all four Grand Slam semifinals in the same year.

The match had a troublesome start for Isner when Murray was content to return the serve anyway possible and then engage in a rally. At 6’9” Isner has great reach but not the strongest ground game. The American is a better player now than he was in 2010 and a major win may be in his future. This was Isner’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

In winning his tenth match in a row, Murray won the 12th game of set one with a double fault and then broke again on Isner’s first service game of the second set. That was all the Scotsman needed to win the set.

Isner’s high-risk offense provided for some spectacular points in the second set but the American had nothing to show for it. In the 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(2) win, he broke Murray first service game of the third set and raced to a 2-0 lead. After a tough hold in the fifth game of the set, he closed out the set.

The crowd rallied behind Isner and he had some momentum heading into the fourth set. Murray’s best chance to break came at 15-40 in the ninth game but Isner staved of the break and both players held serve into the tiebreaker.

Isner, who had won nine consecutive matches coming into this match, had won three tiebreakers against Gilles Simon to reach the quarters and is very effective in tiebreakers. However, Murray moved inside the court to take the serve on the rise and complete the win with a 7-2 tally in the tiebreaker. The win was significant because Murray keeps finding ways to win. He will not face a better serve the rest of the way through the draw.

Rafa Downs Roddick

The defending champion’s abrupt quarterfinal dismissal of Andy Roddick sent a clear message to the other three semifinalists that the U.S. Open title is his until somebody takes it away.

Nadal has had some difficult moments in this tournament but Friday’s blowout underscores the gap between the world’s top four players and the rest of the field. Nadal unloaded a basketful of weapons against Roddick who seemed detached from the match.

Try as he might, the American could not find his mo-jo. The embarrassing loss was one-sided from the get go as Nadal broke Roddick’s vaunted serve the first two games of set one. In fact, Nadal broke on six of his seven opportunities while Roddick went 0-4.

Nadal needed less than two hours against Roddick and will be ready for Murray on Saturday. Murray played a tense 3.5 hour match and was hoping that Roddick could get his juices flowing but it was not to be. In their careers, Murray and Nadal have met 12 times and Nadal has triumphed 8 times.

Murray has, however, raised his level of play in 2011 and is the favorite to go all the way in the minds of some analysts. Murray and Federer appear healthier than their opponents on Saturday.


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