A blockbuster final has been set for Sunday afternoon at the Mutua Madrid Open, as two members of the Big Four, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, meet to determine who will lift the title just weeks ahead of the French Open. For Nadal, this is an opportunity to win his seventh title in Madrid, while Murray will look to follow up on his first clay court title last week with a Masters 1000 crown to his name on clay. Nadal leads the head-to-head series 15-5, including a 6-0 record on clay.
While the first set was a competitive affair, world No. 4 Rafael Nadal produced a solid performance to defeat Tomas Berdych 7-6(3), 6-1 and advance to the final of the Madrid Open. It was a promising performance from Rafa, who looked as though he was swinging freely and with confidence.
“For the past couple of days I have been playing better and better every day,” said Nadal. “That’s always very good news. I am in the final. I am happy for that. I am enjoying a lot the fact that I am playing in front of an unbelievable crowd. For me, that’s the best crowd in the world without any doubt. So that gives me a lot of really positive energy.
In a surprisingly straightforward encounter on Saturday, British No. 1 Andy Murray defeated Kei Nishikori in straight sets to secure his spot in the final of the tournament. He won the match 6-3, 6-4 to advance his undefeated streak on clay this season to 9-0.
“This year and in the off-season I put in a lot of hard work on my game and made a few changes and tried to get back to playing the way that I was playing when I was my most successful,” said Murray. “I think today I was pretty aggressive. I tried to dictate a lot of the points, especially when he was serving, and it worked well.”
This marks the 21st time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour, with Nadal leading the head-to-head series 15-5. He is also 6-0 against Murray on clay, including two consecutive wins on the red dust in 2014, the latest of which was the semi-final stage of last year’s French Open event. While Murray is riding a significant wave of momentum heading into the final, Nadal appears to be back to near-100-percent form and that could signal the end of Murray’s undefeated streak this season on clay.
“Against Rafa it is going to be extremely difficult, especially playing here in Spain. I think he’s played very well this week, too. Hopefully I can put in a good performance and make it tough for him and see what happens.”
Prediction: Rafael Nadal in Three Sets