MADRID, May 7, 2016
Andy Murray will get the chance to defend his title at the Mutua Madrid Open, beating Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-4 in Saturday’s opening semi-final on court Manolo Santana.
The second seeded Brit hit eight aces and was simply more effective than his opponent during the crucial stages of the match, converting 11 of his 13 break point chances. Murray took the opening set in the 12th game with a smashing return.
Nadal had a strong start into the second frame but couldn’t capitalize on his first eight break point chances and it was Murray again, who forced the Spaniard to suffer a service loss in the sixth game for a 4-2 lead. Murray handled Nadal’s spin very well, put a lot of variety in his shots with a nice selection of drop shots and even dictated a lot of the baseline rallies.
In an interesting ninth game, Nadal saved one match point and eventually converted his ninth break point when Murray netted a forehand. Similar happened on the other side in the following game, when Nadal missed an overhead smash at 15-30 giving Murray another two chances to finish the match and this time the Brit sealed the deal, celebrating his second consecutive Madrid victory over the local hero after two hours and 11 minutes.
“Obviously I went up in both of the sets, served for both sets, and then he came back. Then I managed to get the momentum back straightaway. I didn’t feel like it was so up and down, but he certainly had a lot of chances. There were a few service games where he had multiple break points,” Murray analyzed.
“The beginning of the second set was important. The first game of the second set was a very high level, high intensity, and he had chances. I came up with some big serves to win that game. That was important.”
Nadal was obviously disappointed afterwards.
“He was very strong in the beginning. It was a different story in the second set. I had more opportunities than him. I had higher rhythm and tried to play aggressively to win the set. I also served very well but in general, he was a little bit better than me, and we have to congratulate him for his victory and recognize that he has played better than me in the important moments,” the world number five was a fair loser.
“I think that I had another positive week. I made it to the semi-finals. I think I’m very consistent every week. This is good news,” Nadal told.
“Well, today mentally I think I was okay. I fought a lot until the end. I tried to look for solutions, and I think I did that but it wasn’t enough. Overall my feelings are good. I was just missing a little bit more of intensity with my drive. I had to be a little bit stronger in my shots. I had to maybe play a little bit harder, which is what makes the difference. Maybe I did a little bit more in the second set than in the first set, but I just needed to hurt him a little bit more with my shots. I hope to continue on this positive path. I feel happy competing. I’m comfortable. I also practice with a lot of joy to continue going this way.”
After a first round bye at the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome next week, Nadal awaits the winner of the match between Philipp Kohlschreiber and a qualifier. The Spaniard is in the top half of the draw, joining Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer.