Hold your nerve
Andy Murray has the skill to beat Rafael Nadal, but does he have the nerve, asks Gerry Williams.
Last Updated: 02/07/10 12:13pm
Today it's the men's semi-finals, first Tomas Berdych against Novak Djokovic and then the one the British are stewing over Andy Murray against Rafael Nadal.
Everybody asks "has Andy really got a chance?" my answer is yes.
Nadal I believe is the favourite. After all he is number one on a computer that ranks the men players. It's not a matter of hunch or personal preference but of mathematics. And Nadal has actually won Wimbledon once which surely will be a psychological advantage.
Murray's record against him is 7-3 to the Spaniard, but Murray has just the game to frustrate him as he demonstrated at the 2008 US Open championship and again at the Australian Open at the start of this year when Nadal retired with the scores 6-3, 7-6, 3-0 in the Brits favour.
Nadal thrives on hitting huge drives from the baseline. Murray's game in contrast is so flexible and inventive that he can frustrate Nadal with a chip here, a drive there, next a drop shot, then an angle then a serve and volley. He has the skill to do it. The question is has he the nerve on the biggest stage of all?
The last British man to reach a Wimbledon single's final was the late 'Bunny' Austin back in 1938. I can't resist telling you that as a youngster I used to play at the same tennis club (i.e. the Nord Sports Club in South East London) where Bunny Austin and years later CM Jones and then Roger Becker were also members.
The women's singles final tomorrow will be between Serena Williams (surprise surprise!) and Vera Zvonareva.
The Williams sisters have won eight of the last 10 Wimbledon single's titles and I don't see how anyone can make a case for the Russian to beat her now.
Serena had already served 73 aces going into her semi-final against Petra Kvitova, but the Czech left-hander struck the ball firmly from the start clearly determined she wasn't going to be intimidated.
There was a hint of Martina Navratilova about her. It was only in the first set tie-break that she became a bit too cavalier. Berdych having dethroned Federer the day before, you wondered what's going on in the Czech Republic. Quite a lot I would have thought. Serena won 7-5, 6-2.
With two vivid personalities like the Belgians Kim Clijsters and Justine Henin already out, an unlikely pairing played the first of the women's semi-finals - Tsvetana Pironkova from Bulgaria, against Vera Zvonareva from Russia.
The two were so alike it was disconcerting. Both are slender, both have one-handed forehands, both have two-handed back-hands, both were uncertain about going forward and both wore eye shades.
Pironkova who is yet to win a singles title on the WTA tour took the first set 6-3 and the television picture briefly focused on a gentlemen looking drowsy.
Zvonareva, who I now spotted wore her hair up at the back to help me distinguish between them, almost imperceptibly stepped it up - taking the second set 6-3 and the third 6-2. She'll be the second lowest ranked women's finalist placed at 21.
Finally this morning a chuckle at ourselves. This fortnight began you'll remember with our annual paranoia over the porosity of our British up and coming talent.
Now it's all Murray Mania and excitement over our two juniors in the semi-finals of the Under-18s singles, Laura Robson and the young actor Oliver Golding.
Earlier in the fortnight two other young British players put out the best men's doubles pair in the business.
It all goes with the strawberries and cream and it's called Wimbledon.