For the second year in a row, Andy Murray defeated Rafael Nadal on the Spaniard’s home soil at the Mutua Madrid Open in straight sets. While as one-sided an affair as their final last year, Murray still managed to battle past the below-par King of Clay 7-5, 6-4. Murray, the defending champion, is now back in the final, while Nadal had his 13-match winning streak snapped.
Murray wears down Nadal defence
Both men held fairly comfortably through the first three games of the match, although Murray was showing a little more initiative in the rallies. In Nadal’s second service game, the world number two made his move. Dominating rallies and pushing Nadal around the baseline, he brought up triple break point. The Spaniard finally seemed to get some control in rallies, saving the first two with some good baseline play. But as quickly as his level went up, it dropped and he dumped a poor forehand into the net to give Murray at 3-1 lead.
It would not take too long before Nadal made a move to break back, bringing up double break point in the seventh game. But the Spaniard could not close the deal and Murray battled back to move to within a game of the opening set. However, Nadal continued to push and, after a hold to love, he again reached double break point on the Murray serve, while the Brit was serving for the set, converting his second to put the set back on serve.
Nadal held with ease to even the score at 5-5, and pushed Murray to deuce in the following game, but could not take advantage and the Brit held to make Nadal serve to stay in the set once again. This time, the errors poured off the Nadal racquet and he found himself down triple set point. The world number two only needed one as he ripped a return winner down the line to seal the opening set.
Late break for Murray foils Nadal comeback
The four-time Madrid champion wasted no time in trying to turn the match around in the opening game of the second set, bring up a break point in the first game of the set. But Murray was up to the task, saving it with an ace. Nadal quickly brought up another with an amazing crosscourt passing shot, but again Murray saved it with an ace. A classic Nadal forehand combination brought up a third, only for Murray to rip a crosscourt backhand winner and go on to hold.
In a lengthy fifth game, Nadal once again held multiple break points, but again could not convert. Murray made him pay for the missed opportunity, breaking in the following game for a 4-2 lead. Determined not to be left behind, the Spaniard raced ahead 15-40 in the next game, only for Murray to save both. The Brit held to lead 5-2, forcing Nadal to serve to stay in the set.
His back up against the wall once again, Nadal kept fighting. Murray would push him to deuce, but he would battle to hold and force the world number two to serve for the match. Murray would reach match point, but Nadal saved it. At long last, Nadal drew an error on his second break point to close to 4-5. Serving to level the set, a series of errors, including missed smash at 15-30, gave Murray double match point, where he hit another error to gift his rival the win.
By the numbers
Nadal will be haunted by his failure to convert break points. The Spaniard more than doubled Murray in terms of break point opportunities, having chances to break 13 times to Murray’s six. However, Nadal only converted two of his chances, while the Brit broke four times. Despite putting his first serve into play 80 percent of the time, Nadal was burned when he missed only winning 33 percent of his second serve points.