US Open: Beaten Murray still has grand ambition
Andy Murray insisted it was his game plan not his head that was the problem as once again Rafael Nadal blocked his path to a grand slam final at the US Open.
For the third major in a row the world number four lost to his Spanish nemesis in the semi-finals to ensure his search for one of the sport's four biggest trophies goes on.
It was another courageous effort from Murray, who became the first player this tournament to take a set off Nadal, but it was not enough as the defending champion responded to triumph 6-4 6-2 3-6 6-2.
The Scot has now lost 13 of his 17 meetings with the man from Majorca, including the last five, but he cited wins at the US Open in 2008 and the Australian Open in 2010 as evidence Nadal does not have a psychological hold over him.
Murray said: “I have beaten him before twice, so, no, it's not the belief that's the problem. I just need to play the right way.
“I feel like on the hard courts is my best match-up against him. On the grass I definitely need to improve, and on the clay I definitely need to improve a lot to win against him. But I don't feel like I'm far off on the hard courts.”
Murray felt he had been too aggressive after his four-set loss at Wimbledon in July and it was a similar story yesterday for two sets as the fourth seed committed too many errors.
The 24-year-old was certainly not helped by the rain-affected schedule, which forced both men to play three matches in three days. But, while Nadal had had an easy win over Andy Roddick on Friday, Murray took more than three hours to beat John Isner.
He said: “When you've played a long match the day before, you need to get the balance right.
“Anyone playing Rafa, you're going to play a lot of long rallies. So, if you can get some opportunities to try to shorten the points, then it would be good to do that.
“Once I went behind, I realised that wasn't working. And then the third and fourth sets I started being more patient and started picking the right moments to come forward.”
Nadal will meet Novak Djokovic in tonight’s final after the Serbian staged an incredible comeback to beat Roger Federer over five sets — only serving to illustrate what an incredibly tough task it will be for Murray to win a grand slam.
The Scot does not believe that is what defines him, though, and he said: “It's something I want to try and achieve but, if you want to judge someone's whole career based purely on slams, I would have had a terrible career.
“But I don't really feel like I have. There have been other things I've done well.”