Murray Demolishes Pedestrian Nadal To Claim 2015 Madrid Open Title
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Andy Murray’s unbeaten clay run continueed as he defeated an error ridden Nadal 6-3, 6-2 to claim his second career title on clay, and his first ever clay masters title in Madrid. It’s his second trophy of the season as well, as he was the victor in Munich last week and is now riding a long winning streak.
The British number one has traditionally struggled on the dirt, but this year has been a complete reverse in fortunes for Murray as he improves his clay court record in 2015 to 9-0.
After defeating Phillip Kohlschreiber, Marcel Granollers, Milos Raonic, and Kei Nishikori on his way to Sunday’s final, the biggest test seemingly lied in the form of Rafael Nadal whose clay court record Is unmatched.
The prospect of facing the king of clay hardly seemed to phase Murray, who racked up eight straight points at the beginning of the match before breaking Nadal at the second attempt. Nadal’s game was ridden with errors, as the ball flew off his racket out of the court or into the net. Murray remained consistent, and barely put a foot wrong as a stunned Madrid crowd watched their hero make some terrible errors.
When serving for the set, the so far rock sold Brit found himself under pressure facing a break point. But he remained true to himself and saved it before taking the first set point. The Madrid crowd tried to inspire Nadal into form with chants of ‘Rafa’ ringing around Manolo Santana. Despite the crowd support, the match wouldn’t get any better for the defending champion. An early break for Murray was followed by a second two games later, and the hopes of Nadal defending title were drifting further than Nadal’s shots. A solid Murray wouldn’t budge as error after error came off the racket of Nadal. La Caja Magica was left stunned as the world number three edged closer and closer to victory. Nadal managed to muster two more games despite his poor form, but any hopes of a comeback were long gone.
Murray went on to successfully serve the match out, and with that claimed his second title in Madrid (he previously won the title when it was played on indoor hard in the Fall.)
This was also Murray’s first victory over Nadal on clay, with all his previous wins coming on hard court. The head to head now reads 15-6 in favour of the Spaniard.
Nadal’s defeat means he will slip to 7th in the rankings, his lowest in a decade. It also puts him in an uphill battle to secure a top four seeding for the French Open, where he will be defending the title. This was his biggest loss on clay since losing 6-2, 6-3 to Gaston Gaudio in Bastad 11 years ago.
“I felt I had a really bad game in the first game of the second set with my serve.” Nadal said post-match.
“I committed a couple of errors, a couple of volleys. I also threw a couple of balls into the net.”
“During every single moment I was fighting and trying to give the maximum. It’s one of those days where things just don’t work out.”
Despite the tough loss, Nadal remains positive about this week.
“Well, it’s been a positive week. I am not going to lie” Nadal said.
“A week before I would’ve signed for these results of course. I’ve played a couple of good matches, especially yesterday’s match.”
“It’s one of the best matches I have played in a long time. So I cannot leave Madrid not happy. I will leave happy and just delete what happened today.”
Murray on the other hand looks like a different player on clay this year. The Brit is unbeaten on the surface in 2015, and the victory in Madrid is his biggest title on clay. With this sort of form on the red dirt, Murray will be considered one of the favourites for the upcoming French Open.
I asked Murray post-match if Amelie Mauresmo had any effect on his clay game.
“I think it’s a big thanks to all my team.” The champion said. “Obviously Amelie, but my physical trainers and physios for putting in a lot of hard work and making some pretty drastic changes to the way I’ve trained and tried to understand my body better so that I could say healthy for longer, and especially on this surface, which I haven’t done the past two or three years. I have really struggled physically on the clay.”
“Yeah, big thanks to all my team for actually accepting, okay, you felt really bad on the clay. What are the reasons for that and what can we do to make you feel better? They’ve done a great job. Yeah, obviously Amelie has been influential in that, but also the rest of my team as well for being brave enough to actually make changes. Yeah I feel much better because of it.”
Murray also believes that consistency was the reason for victory today.
“I think today I was just more consistent.” The Brit said.
“I think in the second set Rafa was starting to play better at the beginning of the second, and middle part of the set. But I stayed strong in that period of the match and he started to make some mistakes at the end that he wouldn’t normally make. That obviously helped me finish the match.”
Murray remains number three in the world rankings and heads into Rome full of confidence after his win. Nadal meanwhile will look to build his form in time for his French Open defence in a few weeks’ time.
In doubles Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea took the title over Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2 6-7(5) 11-9.