PARIS (AP) — Andy Murray headed out on court with an opportunity to reach the French Open final for the first time.
Rafael Nadal, however, didn’t give him a chance.
Murray, who missed the tournament at Roland Garros last year because of a back injury, reached the semifinals for the second time in four years. But for the second time in four years, he was beaten by Nadal in straight sets.
“It was a tough day for me,” said Murray, who lost 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 Friday. “It was a bad, bad day.”
Murray’s serve was broken six times, the same number of break-point chances Nadal had. On the other end, Murray failed to even earn a break chance.
“He missed hardly any balls,” Murray said. “I mean, his forehand — especially with the conditions the way they were today — was incredibly hard to control the ball.”
Murray is now 7-7 in Grand Slam semifinals. He has won two major titles, including at Wimbledon last year where he became the first British man to win the grass-court tournament in southwest London since Fred Perry in 1936.
But clay is a tougher surface for a player who likes the speedier courts. And playing on clay against Nadal, an eight-time French Open champion with a 65-1 record at Roland Garros, is tougher still.
“Today, I was mis-hitting a lot of balls. It was incredibly frustrating,” Murray said. “In some ways you start trying too hard, and it doesn’t always appear that way. But you want to do stuff too badly, and you end up making more mistakes and things get worse.”
The weather didn’t help.
After nearly two weeks of overcast skies and cool weather, the sun was out and the temperature soared to 28 degrees C (82 degrees F). Perfect conditions for Nadal on his favorite court in the world.
“He served well and I didn’t return well. Simple,” Murray said. “Ball was coming through the court quicker today.”
Murray won his first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in 2012. That was after losing his first four major finals, and it was also after hiring Ivan Lendl as coach.
The Czech great helped Murray finally become a major champion, and a Wimbledon champion a year later, but the pair split in March and Murray has been without a coach since.
With another Wimbledon coming up, the defending champion said there was a 50-50 chance he would have a new coach in place by the time the tournament starts on June 23. But he wasn’t even too sure about that.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Murray said, shaking off a reporter’s question as he tried to shake off the defeat. “I would hope to have someone in place. I don’t know.”
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