Andy Murray looks to run this win streak over Rafael Nadal to three matches on Wednesday. The Scot has beaten the Spaniard twice already this season with one coming surprisingly in a clay court final.
(2) Andy Murray - (5) Rafael Nadal
Murray was one of the few winners in the opening match of Round Robin play who actually played a tighter match. The second seed came through 6-4, 6-4 against David Ferrer. Murray was rock solid on serve, winning 74 percent of his points on-serve. He took advantage of some problematic service games from Ferrer who double faulted eight times in the match. Ferrer was also forced to play too many second serves as he only got his first serve in play 49 percent of the time. That left Murray to rip apart the second serve as the Scot won 20 of 32 points.
Nadal had few problems with Stan Wawrinka in his opener. Rafa played solid tennis, but there was seemingly a lack of desire form the Swiss as well. For Nadal, the 6-3, 6-2 win was a pleasing one after losing to Wawrinka in two tie breaks in Paris earlier in the month. The lefty from Spain had numerous looks at break opportunities with Wawrinka not serving up to par. In the end, Rafa broke him four times on 15 chances. Nadal said after the match that he liked his aggressiveness in the match and that he did not make many mistakes. The one area as always that he pointed to for improvement was his serve.
This is the 22nd career meeting between Murray and Nadal. Nadal holds the all-time lead 15-6. Murray walloped the Spaniard in Abu Dhabi in exhibition play in January and on clay in final of the Madrid Masters. Rafa won just seven games over four sets in those two matches. Nadal of course has shown much improved play since that last meeting in May, so he will expect to show much better in this match on Wednesday.
Matches between Murray and Nadal normally resort to a slugfest from the baseline. Both will look to craft points by setting up their opponent in rallies. Both are likely to target the backhand of the other as the weaker ground stroke for both. The slower conditions in London should be conducive to what each player likes to do, so the edge would be minimal to either. Both will take every opportunity to run around and take shots from the forehand side when possible. Murray has said the ball is bouncing low this week and that should play to his advantage as Nadal is well known for liking a higher bounce to work the top spin on his shots.
This would be a massive win for Nadal who is just 5-10 against Top 10 ranked players this season. His fifth win coming in his first match in London against Wawrinka. Both players should effort fully here with the winner going into the pole position in this group at 2-0. Look for this one to potentially go the distance this time with Nadal playing much more aggressively than he was early in the season and Murray consistent in his fight most matches. Logic says Murray here, but this columnist's gut is going to go against the grain with Nadal.
Prediction: Nadal wins in three sets.