Andy Murray is playing the best clay court tennis of his career. On Monday, Murray won his first ever clay court title in Germany. He has backed up this victory with successive wins over Kohlschreiber, Raonic, and Nishikori. Kei Nishikori is a serious threat on clay, and Murray took him down in straight sets. Andy Murray has some traits of a great clay court player. He returns well, he runs well, and his fitness is of a high level. Murray can be a bit negative on court, but he also fights for victory. He has the makings of an excellent clay court player. Can he beat Rafael Nadal in Madrid on clay?
Rafa’s Latest Restoration?
Rafael Nadal’s consecutive straight set wins over Grigor Dimitrov and Tomas Berdych have the Spaniard looking quite a bit like his old self. We have seen Rafa injured and eventually restoring his game. This restoration program may have taken a bit longer, but it seems to be ending up in a usual place. Outside of Djokovic, who else would someone pick to win Roland Garros right now aside from Rafa? I think even if Murray beats Nadal, Rafa would still enter Paris with a fair bit of momentum. Rafa’s forehand was fearsome versus Berdych. If it is clicking versus Murray, does the Scot stand a chance?
Murray-Rafa: Jonas Bjorkman’s Influence
I think Murray has the tools to execute a similar game plan to what Nole uses versus Rafa. Murray may even get a few more points off of his first serve than Nole. Also, Bjorkman will likely have Murray use his excellent return to open up surprise forays to the net. This could be a major factor in the match.
If Rafa hits his forehand as well as he did versus Berdych, Murray is in serious trouble. Obviously, Murray will try to prevent Rafa from hitting from his favored spots. The match will come down to how well Murray does that and how well Murray returns Rafa’s serve. I think these guys will test each other physically in a way Murray has not done versus Rafa on clay. So my prediction?
My Prediction: I am tempted to take Murray. I think he has a great team of coaches, is playing with confidence, and has the tools to bother Rafa. Still, I feel like we’ve been here before and seen Rafa raise his level of play on clay to a nearly untouchable level. Therefore, I predict Rafael Nadal to defeat Andy Murray 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.