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Rafael Nadal smashes through Andy Murray and into Wimbledon final

July 1, 2011 | 12:19 pm

Ra_600f For one set Andy Murray had defending Wimbledon champion Rafael Nadal on the run. Murray, seeded fourth and trying to become the first British man since 1936 to win the most important tennis tournament in the world, broke Nadal's serve to end the first set.

As the top-seeded Spaniard knocked a backhand awry, the cheers were huge, both from inside Centre Court and around the grounds, where fans watched on television.

But instead of a big upset and a chance to celebrate at least until Sunday's final, most of the crowd exited the All England Club as if they were Chicago Cubs fans. All they could think was, "Wait till next year."

Photos: Scenes from Wimbledon

Nadal played nearly error-free tennis over the last three sets and won his 20th straight Wimbledon match 5-7, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard hasn't lost here since falling to Roger Federer in the finals in 2007. (Nadal missed Wimbledon in 2009 with a knee injury.)

He will play second-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final. Whatever the result of that match, Djokovic will become the No. 1-ranked player in the world over Nadal. In head-to-head matchups, Nadal leads Djokovic 16-11 overall, but Djokovic has beaten Nadal all four times they've played this year.

Nadal exuberantly served out the victory, earning the win on his second match point. It was a huge forehand winner, but Nadal didn't totally celebrate until he hugged the shoulders of Murray, who is his friend and PlayStation buddy. But Murray couldn't muster a smile as he walked off Centre Court, leaving Nadal to sign autographs.

Nadal gave Murray almost no hope after the first set, having only seven unforced errors in the two-hour, 59-minute match.

"For sure for me it's really a dream to be back in the final another time," Nadal said. "Seriously, I feel sad for Andy, he deserves to be in this final too. I think I played very well. I played today my best tennis."

MORE:

Photos from Wimbledon

Novak Djokovic will be No.1

Maria Sharapova advances to Wimbledon final

-- Diane Pucin in Wimbledon, England

Photo: Rafael Nadal. Credit: Michael Regan / Getty Images.

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