LONDON, July 1, 2011 (AFP) - Rafael Nadal takes an 11-4 winning record into his Wimbledon semi-final against Andy Murray, but insists history will count for nothing in Friday's Centre Court blockbuster.
Nadal, the defending champion, is aware that Murray is riding a wave of emotion from a public desperate to see an end to Britain's 75-year wait to crown a new men's singles champion.
|Nadal (C) leaves after a training at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships at the All England Tennis Club, in southwest London on June 30, 2011. AFP|
He is also wary of a Scottish opponent keen to make up for his straight sets defeat to the world number one at the same stage of the tournament 12 months ago.
"Last year I beat him in the semi-finals, but it was a very close match, even if it was in straight sets," said Nadal.
"The match will be very difficult for me. I think he's playing at a very, very high level. For me, the last few months of Andy have been very, very good. It'll be a big challenge."
Nadal insists that he is not concerned by his latest fitness problem, a left foot injury picked up in his fourth round win over Juan Martin del Potro which requires painkillers to numb the pain.
"My foot is not fine. But we are in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon. It's an emergency, so I had to play," said Nadal, who was also champion in 2008.
Having reached his third successive semi-final at the All England Club, Murray believes that this could be the year he succeeds Fred Perry, Britain's last champion in 1936.
"I believe I can win against him. I had chances last year. I was up a break in the third set and had break point on my serve in the second set," recalled Murray, who will be playing in his seventh Grand Slam semi-final.
"But I just have to have a better game plan. Sometimes it comes down to strategy. Sometimes it comes down to having more experience. I just have to go out there and play well and serve well."
Friday's other semi-final sees second seed Novak Djokovic, a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2010, tackling French 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who sent six-time champion Roger Federer to a landmark defeat in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion, has lost just once in his last 49 matches, a run stretching back to Serbia's Davis Cup triumph in December.
But the 24-year-old Serb has a losing record against the 26-year-old Tsonga, having only won two of the pair's seven meetings.
Djokovic is wary of the danger posed by the swashbuckling Frenchman who served so consistently against Federer in his astonishing 3-6, 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory.
"Tsonga been playing great in the grass court season. He played really well at Queen's, and now he's been winning against top players. He's very dangerous," said Djokovic.
Tsonga, who was a quarter-finalist last year, defeated Djokovic the last time they met in the last eight of the Australian Open in 2010.