Andy Murray has agreed to play in Rome after his back-to-back win in Munich and Madrid. He beat Rafael Nadal in the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open finals 6-3, 6-2. Murray’s Madrid win made him the fourth player to have beaten Nadal in a clay-court final. It was his second clay-court title of the year, but Nadal has been having a dismal season so far.
Something has happened to Rafael Nadal. For the first time since his rankings have slipped to World No 7, the lowest it has ever been since 2005. His position in the table was taken by Milos Raonic. The reason was his loss to Andy Murray in the Madrid Open finals. Murray dominated the match to win 6-3, 6-2. This loss has maintained the trend of this dismal season for Nadal fans where he has lost four clay showdowns this year. This is also the first year since 2005 when he has won only a single title so far in the season.
Fans took to Twitter and Facebook expressing their feelings about the match as did much of the media. Tweets started circulating about how there have been more living humans who have walked on the moon than those who have beaten Nadal in a final on clay. Others said that he deserved a break and would be in form soon while his detractors plotted his downfall.
Murray claimed his first clay court victory over “the king of clay” and his second one in a row in a tournament since his Munich Open title. Murray played well and said that he made few errors and managed the ball heights really well. He was also glad to have beaten Nadal on his own turf. He said it was one of the hardest things in tennis to have won against Nadal on clay and he was glad to have done it.
Nadal tried to maintain a positive outlook by telling the media that he will be leaving Madrid happy and reaching the finals was a big deal in itself. The two-time defending champion said that it had just not been his day, but hoped that these circumstances do not repeat themselves. “It’s been complicated today. It’s not the day I was expecting,” said Nadal and then said that his rank change will not affect his game. He also promised to fight till the end of this season to regain his ranking in the top four.
Nadal’s season this year officially began in January. Last year he had been suffering from a right wrist injury and took a three-month break until September. After that he, he had to withdraw from the season again in October because of health reasons. He was suffering from appendicitis and had to undergo surgery in November. Murray’s decision to play in Rome might not bode well for Nadal, who has had his worst season in the last 10 years.
He was the defending champion at the 2015 Qatar ExxonMobil Open in January. Nadal still had to regain his form, which was a little rusty, but if he had been hoping to regain it while playing the tournament he was sorely disappointed. He lost to Michael Berrer in the first round 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. This year was Berrer’s last season so he had nothing to lose when he faced the second-seeded Spaniard. That he won against Nadal was probably the highlight. Nadal though, went on to win the men’s doubles with his partner Juan Monaco at the same tournament.
Then he was defeated by Tomas Berdych in the 2015 Australian Open quarterfinals. This ended Nadal’s 17-match winning streak and Berdych became the second player to have defeated all Big Four – Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Nadal – at a Grand Slam.
Nadal has not been doing too well on the clay courts also. He lost to Fabio Fognini in the semifinals of the Rio Open in February. This match was not as lopsided as he won the first set and broke the second. The Argentina Open at the end of the month was probably the highlight of this year when he went on to win his first 2015 singles title by beating Juan Monaco.
His win should have propelled him through his next tournament, but it was not to be. He lost his quarterfinal match of the 2015 BNP Paribas Open also called the Indian Well Masters to Milos Raonic. This was followed by his loss to Fernando Verdasco in the third round of the Miami Open. This was the first time since 2006 that he had failed to reach the fourth round of the Miami Open.
April was another round of disappointment for Nadal and his fans. It was clay-court season and the time by which he usually is in the groove, but he lost in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. He had a good run there as he beat World No 8, David Ferrer in the quarterfinals, but he lost to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. This was followed by the Barcelona Open where the eight-time former champion lost to Fabio Fognini in the third round.
The Mutua Madrid Open loss might be the death toll for Nadal’s rule on clay. He said that he lost the rhythm of the game after the match started badly. He also said that he would try to have a good week in Rome, where he will be the fourth seed.
He will play next at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, also known as the Rome Masters. It is also an outdoor clay tournament where Novak Djokovic is the defending champion. This will be followed by the Open de Nice Cote d’ Azur and Roland Garros. It was in Rome that he lost to Novak Djokovic in the finals last year, but he has also won the Italian Open seven times. Nadal will play against Marsel Illhan tomorrow while the third seeded Murray will play Jeremy Chardy tomorrow in Rome.
By Anugya Chitransh
Photo of Andy Murray by Mariannne Beavis – Creativecommons Flickr License
Rafael Nada’s match photo by Yann Caradec – Creativecommons Flickr License
Press photo by mirsasha – Creativecommons Flickr License