Djokovic sets final showdown with Murray

Madrid, May 8

World No 1 Novak Djokovic set-up a mouthwatering Madrid Masters final showdown against defending champion Andy Murray by seeing off Japan’s Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Saturday.

Murray, the second seed, earlier registered just his second ever win over Rafael Nadal on clay to make the final with a 7-5, 6-4 victory. Djokovic has yet to drop a set in the Spanish capital this week but he was nearly caught cold by the windy conditions as he had to battle back from 0-40 down in the first game with some fine serving. The Serb slowly began to find his rhythm and broke through in the eighth game as Nishikori pulled a forehand wide before serving out for the set.

Djokovic looked set to seal victory comfortably as he led 40-0 at 5-4 in the second set, but the Japanese star dug deep, saving the three match points and then a fourth as he broke back before forcing the tiebreak. However, the top seed bounced back to take the breaker 7-4 and set up his first meeting with Murray in a Masters series final on clay. “I had an easy forehand to finish off the match at 40-0 then a double fault and couple of good points from Kei and the break was there,” said Djokovic.

Murray’s only previous win over Nadal on clay also came in Madrid in last year’s final. Saturday’s defeat brought to an end Nadal’s 13-match winning run on the European clay this season after looking back to his best on his favoured surface with victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in recent weeks. “I think it was a better win for me this year than last year,” said Murray. Nadal admitted Murray had been the better player on the big points after missing out on 11 of 13 break points. “It was an open, competitive match which in the end was decided by a few points. The one that played the big points better won,” said Nadal.

Nadal had come from a set down to beat Murray in the semi-finals of Monte Carlo and was forced to try to do the same again as the Scot edged a tight first set. The second set was a tale of break points as Murray saved eight of the nine he faced and pounced on his two opportunities to leave the home crowd silenced.

Nadal finally broke on his ninth break point of the set as Murray served for the match. However, the Spaniard couldn’t back up the break as he dumped a smash into the net to bring up two more match points and then also found the net with a regulation forehand to hand Murray victory in just over two hours on court.