Positives for Rafa
Unsurprisingly, most of the attention after Andy Murray's Australian Open quarter final victory over Rafael Nadal centred on the Scot. His victory over the holder took him into his third Grand Slam semi-final without losing a set - the tennis betting now suggests he has a good chance of lifting the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.
However, there were also some positives for Nadal. This might not appear to be the case - it was his 11th defeat in his last 12 meetings with a player in the top ten and the knee problems which plagued him last year appear to have resurfaced.
Nonetheless, the world number two had his chances against Murray. He had 12 break points in the match, two more than his opponent, but crucially he converted two less. He failed to build on a good start but there were enough glimpses of his old self to suggest he can emerge from his current malaise.
Nadal is lacking in confidence. He has lost some of his aura and the unshakable self-belief that so often carried him through matches. This decline has been capitalised on by Murray and Roger Federer.
However, the Spaniard played some stunning points against Murray and produced only one more unforced error than the Scot. Still, it is winners that count and he was 15 adrift of Murray on that front. In addition, his ground strokes lacked punch and were often too short, but this should not worry him too much.
This part of the game is Nadal's speciality and as his confidence returns his play from the back of the court will steadily improve. By the time the clay court season starts later in the year he should be fit and fresh, the tennis betting odds will reflect this.
So perhaps Murray should bask in the glory of his victory over Nadal while he can - he will surely not dominate long rallies against Nadal as much next time they meet.
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