Murray slays king of clay

World No. 2 Andy Murray serving to rival Rafael Nadal in their Madrid Open semi-final yesterday. The defending champion recorded eight aces and saved 11 break points to hand Nadal his first loss in 14 matches.
World No. 2 Andy Murray serving to rival Rafael Nadal in their Madrid Open semi-final yesterday. The defending champion recorded eight aces and saved 11 break points to hand Nadal his first loss in 14 matches. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Reigning Madrid Open champ gets the better of Nadal again in a repeat of last year's final

MADRID • Andy Murray registered just his second ever win over Rafael Nadal on clay to reach the Madrid Masters final after a convincing 7-5, 6-4 victory yesterday.

It was also on the Caja Magica court that the Briton last prevailed over the nine-time French Open champion. He beat Nadal in last year's Madrid final.

Murray will play either top-ranked Novak Djokovic or No. 6 Kei Nishikori for this year's title.

The Scot needs to win this event to maintain his world No. 2 ranking ahead of third-ranked Roger Federer. And he displayed all his battling qualities during the 2hr 11 min encounter.

He served eight aces and saved 11 break points to hand Nadal his first loss after 13 straight wins, which included titles in Barcelona and Monte Carlo last month.

The 28-year-old told Sky Sports: "You have to do a lot of things well (to beat Nadal). I used the forehand pretty (well), I was able to push him back behind the baseline. I didn't make so many mistakes on the returns. I was able to make him worker harder in his service games."

A composed Murray waited patiently to pick his openings, and made the first move to break for 3-1.

But Nadal levelled the scores at 5-5 before losing his concentration as Murray broke to love with an emphatic second-serve return.

Nadal looked physically and mentally drained in the second set and struggled to hold his serve, falling 2-4 behind before succumbing to his rival.

The Spaniard, who is suing former French cabinet minister Roselyne Bachelot after she alleged earlier this year that he had failed a drugs test, also had other pressing issues to address. He used an interview with El Mundo published yesterday to defend himself and other top players against doping accusations. Murray had aired his suspicions last month that some of his opponents may have used performance-enhancing drugs.

The 14-time Major winner said: "I have total confidence that all my rivals are totally clean. I have no doubt about that, first of all because I believe in the anti-doping programme and secondly because I believe in people until they show you otherwise."

He added that people who have accused him of doping are unhappy with their own lives, and do not like his style of play.

Said the former world No. 1: "They look further, at the technical aspect, perhaps only because of my way of fighting for every point, my style of play, which I've had throughout my career."

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 08, 2016, with the headline 'Murray slays king of clay'. Print Edition | Subscribe