Chapter 37: Andy Murray sets up first meeting in 5 years with Novak Djokovic following impressive wins over Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov in Madrid

It wasn’t that long ago that there was criticism of Andy Murray for accepting a wildcard into Madrid having originally opted not to play on the clay.

The Brit was due to play on hard courts in either USA or Korea on the Challenger circuit but these events were pulled meaning Murray headed back to Europe.

Back to back wins in Madrid where he was champion in 2015 has set up a meeting with his friend and rival Novak Djokovic.

Having not won a match on clay in five years to win two days on the bounce against Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov deserves heaps of praise.

It is an exciting match-up, it will be the 37th meeting between Andy and Novak and their first in over five years since Djokovic won in three sets in the Doha final. Their 37th meeting comes 16 years after their first which was subsequently in Madrid.

It has been an exceptional rivalry, Djokovic leads it with 25 wins to 11 win for Murray, the two have met at every Masters 1000 event, ATP Finals, Olympics and every Grand Slam, there isn’t a big stage they haven’t battled on but this feels different.

A few weeks ago we didn’t think Andy would be here but after two impressive wins he is out there enjoying himself and testing him. Speaking following his win against Denis Shapovalov the Brit said:

“In theory I should have no chance in the match, he’s obviously #1 in the world and I’m playing with a metal hip so I shouldn’t have a chance. It’s a great opportunity for me to see where my game’s at and to play against him again.”

I like this approach, it is about enjoying the moment and I think sometimes we get too tied up in trivial nonsense around wildcard and previous meetings but not living in the moment.

More than anything for both players it is good to see them on the court playing and against each other for the first time in half a decade is quite mad that it’s been soo long.

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