Nadal And Murray Open Title Quest In Madrid

MADRID, May 3, 2016

The second round of the Mutua Madrid Open commenced on Tuesday with four-time titlist Rafael Nadal and reigning champion Andy Murray headlining the action.

Nadal entered the “Magix Box” with a 10-match and 11-set-winning streak with clay court titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo and remained untroubled in his opening encounter. The fifth seed gained his third victory over Andrey Kuznetsov with 6-3, 6-3 in as many meetings between the two. Nadal didn’t face a break point, converting three of his own to prevail in one hour and 18 minutes.

“Today it was very hot compared to previous years. The day was a little bit drier; a little bit hotter; the ball was flying faster. Of course here with the altitude, you know, the previous days we could see how the ball was going very fast. Today was a little bit more difficult to control, but the conditions were just perfect to play out there. The temperature was just fine,” Nadal was pleased with his win.

“Happy the way that I started for sure the clay court season. Today is another victory, so that’s a great news. I’m excited about this tournament. That’s it. Next match on Thursday,” Nadal will take on the winner of the match between Sam Querrey and Lucas Pouille next.

Later the evening, Andy Murray followed the Spaniard into the third round but had to go the disance, winning 7-6, 3-6, 6-1 over Czech qualifier Radek Stepanek. The 28-year-old Brit hit 11 aces and capitalized on three of his eight break point opportunities to secure victory in two hours and 16 minutes.

“Well, he played very well. I mean, it was not easy. He obviously started the match a little bit better than me. I was playing a little bit too flat, so I think he obviously likes it when it’s like that, when the ball is bouncing a bit lower,” Murray told.

“He was hitting the ball big up the lines. He hit a lot of lines the first set and a half to get himself in a good position.

“In the second set, the game where he broke me, I hit good second serves and he hit like four or five clean return winners in that game. Nothing you could do there. He was just going big and it was going in. Third set I started to play with a little bit more height. I was playing a little bit more spin, which made it harder for him. When I was getting the ball up high he started making a few more mistakes.”

Meanwhile, the first round matches concluded with five players, who competed in title matches on Sunday. The outcome for the two finalists of the BMW Open was not successful. Munich’s runner-up Dominic Thiem, seeded 14th, lost to Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6, 6-3. The 27-year-old Argentine fired 10 aces and saved all of the seven break points he faced to advance after one hour and 44 minutes. Del Potro will take on Jack Sock next, who ousted Benoit Paire 2-6, 6-2, 7-6 in one hour and 48 minutes.

“I felt good. I’ve had a great test against a very high-level player. During some moments I felt very comfortable; perhaps in other moments I wasn’t so comfortable because he has a very high level and plays very well on this surface,” Del Potro told.

“Incredibly I was able to win the match and I’m in the next round in a very tough tournament. They have always treated me really well here in Madrid. They respect me a lot and they love me, so that makes me feel very comfortable here in Madrid. I enjoy this great tournament.”

Munich’s champion Philipp Kohlschreiber was beaten by Pablo Cuevas 6-3, 3-6, 7-6. The world number 27 from Uruguay won 84% of his first service points, broke his opponent’s serve once and took the tie-break in the final set 7-5 to finish the encounter after one hour and 55 minutes. Cuevas will meet with Gael Monfils, the tournament’s number 13 next. The 29-year-old Frenchman eased past Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-1 in 68 minutes.

Estoril Open runner-up Pablo Carreno-Busta, who entered the main draw with a wild card, defeated Istanbul Open finalist Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-3. The world number 46 from Spain sent down five aces, winning 83% of his first service points to seal his first victory over the Bulgarian in the their third tour meeting after one hour and 41 minutes.

“I don’t have excuses whatsoever for it. I’m not going to lie. I had a pretty rough final out in Turkey, and then I flew yesterday morning. I didn’t even hit on the courts yesterday. Today was my only sort of 20 minutes to adjust for the match. Only thing I could do is go out and try,” Dimitrov told after the match.

“I mean, this is something I have to accept and move on. I’m looking a little bit on the bright side. I’m going to have a few days’ rest and get the chance for my body to recover, maybe go early to Rome, and hopefully it’s better.”

Carreno-Busta will play 16th seed Gilles Simon next.

The champion of last week’s tournament in Portugal, Nicolas Almagro, lost to Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2. The Croatian NextGen-star saved all two break points he had to face, converting on four of his own to prevail in 62 minutes. Coric set a second round clash with top-seed Novak Djokovic, who will start his Madrid campaign on Wednesday.