MADRID, May 6, 2016
In a match, which probably wasn’t expected to become that close, Rafael Nadal fought past Joao Sousa 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 to set a semi-final clash with Andy Murray at the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday.
The encounter started in outdoor conditions and the world number five from Spain outclassed the Portuguese with a bagel in the opening set. Sousa could not only win one point on his second serve.
In the middle of the second set the roof was closed and Sousa seemed to find his rhythm pushing the match the distance. Nadal had to fight hard, giving his shots as much spin as possible and benefited from the Portuguese’s first and only double fault at break point in the eighth game. The world number five served out in the following, winning in two hours and five minutes.
“I can make a pretty simple summary. I played pretty well in the first set. Perhaps he made a few errors, but I also played with very high intensity in the first set. I was hurting him with my balls and playing long and I was in control of the point most of the time. Winning 6-0 against a player like Joao in a quarterfinal here in Madrid, it just doesn’t happen,” Nadal told.
“After that it started raining. The ball was a little bit heavier. I missed a few good opportunities and then we were 4-4. He broke me and won the second set. After that I had to suffer. I had to fight back and I managed to find a solution,” the fifth seed was pleased.
Nadal is not worried to play in similar conditions on Saturday with the roof closed.
“The worst thing of today was not playing indoors, not closing the roof. The problem was that it was raining and the balls and the clay got wet. In the third set we changed balls and the feelings changed. In the second set, apart from stopping for 20 minutes – that didn’t help either – the ball was heavy. It was raining. I wasn’t able to win the two break points that I had, and that’s all,” Nadal described the conditions on centre court and is looking forward to the semi-finals.
“I think that Andy has done great results on clay. He also played the semifinals in Monte-Carlo a couple of years ago. I think that winning a title on clay was only a matter of time for him.”
Murray captured his maiden crown on the dirt at the BMW Open in Munich last year. Ahead of this year’s Masters in Madrid, the Brit practiced with Nadal in Mallorca.
“It’s always something positive and very helpful. The climate normally over there suits us, helps us. I think that next month when I open the academy I’m going to have great facilities over there, and I’m very pleased that any kind of player can come and play. I think they’ll come even more than they do now,” Nadal told.
Earlier the day, 2008 and 2015 champion Andy Murray dismissed Tomas Berdych in the opening match on Manolo Santana, winning 6-3, 6-2. The 28-year-old Scot didn’t face a single break point, converting three of his own to advance after one hour and 16 minutes.
“From my side it was obviously a good match. Again, no break points against me. It was different conditions playing under the roof. Adjusted to them well. That was the most pleasing thing for me. Only played maybe three or four indoor clay matches in my life. Not easy conditions against a tough opponent and I played well,” Murray was pleased with his performance.
Nadal and Murray will meet for the 24th time with the Spaniard leading 17-6 in head to head records. The Brit beat Nadal in last year’s final in Madrid. Nadal emerged victorious from the most recent encounter in the semis in Monte Carlo three weeks ago.