For the third time this year Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal will meet on the tour with Nadal losing both of their meetings this year. Now you may look at the head to head and think they have only played once this year in Madrid however in January they did play each other at an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi which Murray won 6-2 6-0 (I’ll post a link at the bottom of the piece). At the time of the win I said it’s too early to read into it as it was the beginning of the season but it seemed to set the theme for both players for the season with Andy having a great season and Nadal not so.
Both come into this match with a win under their belts after Murray defeating Ferrer 6-4 6-4 and Nadal defeated Wawrinka 6-3 6-2 with Wawrinka and Ferrer meeting in the night session. Now a win for either Murray or Nadal would see them through however both would like to do it in straight sets as games and sets are crucial in deciding who goes through. Worst case scenario is that if Andy or Nadal lose to each other 7-5 7-5 or 7-6 7-6 for example they could still finish the group on Day 4 in second place on games won with Ferrer in third winning 8 games compared for the 12 won by both Andy and Rafa in the first match.
I thought Andy was pretty solid against Ferrer and the result was never in doubt as the Brit broke at 5-4 in both sets to seal the win against the Spaniard who did play well and it was the most competitive singles match of the tournament up to that point. What cost Ferrer was the big points and 8 double faults as the Spaniard double faulted on set point to Murray in the first set who moved well and played with aggression on the baseline and was also quite effective at the net.
Nadal on the other hand pretty much cruised to victory against Wawrinka after a close first couple of games with Nadal moving really well and looked in control and produced one of his best performances of the year in my opinion to defeat Wawrinka however he was helped out by 35 errors in 17 games from the Swiss who seemed to get more frustrated as the match went on!
Nadal does lead the head to head at 15-6 between these two but I’m still finding it tough to predict. Nadal won’t receive as many cheap points as he got against Wawrinka and with recent form I’d say Andy is the slight favourite however Nadal did play very well on Monday evening. My only hope is that it is three sets! Prediction? Tough to call!