Andy Murray squared off against Rafael Nadal in a memorable 2015 Madrid Open championship match.
As a junior, Andy Murray realized if he was going to make it to the next level, he needed to find better competition. That thought process took him from Scotland to Spain, where he developed his baseline game on clay courts against top-level talent.
Entering 2015, after a decade as a professional, Murray had yet to claim a clay-court title. That changed in dramatic fashion at the spring stop in Munich, where the Scot won his first career title on the surface.
The following week at the Madrid Open, the run of good form continued all the way up to the final, as he beat Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori along the way. His opponent in the championship match was none other than Rafael Nadal, who’d defeated Murray each time they'd previously played on the slippery surface. Nadal, the third seed, was in stellar form, going through the week without dropping a set.
The previous two matches between Nadal and Murray were a study in contrasts, as far as results go. Facing each other twice on clay in 2014, Murray had Nadal on the ropes in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, only to be thrashed by the Spaniard in the semifinals of the French Open a few weeks later.
In Madrid, it was Murray who got off to a blazing start as he quickly took a 4-1 lead. Nadal managed to shore up his game to get to 4-3, but by then, it was too late: Murray regained the advantage and closed out the opener, 6-3.
The second set saw more of the same as big hitting from Murray, who forced Nadal out of his comfort zone and into multiple unforced errors. After going up a double break early, Murray kept pushing his advantage to find himself serving for the match at 5-2. Drawing one more error from Nadal, Murray was able to clinch the first Masters title of his career on clay.
Nadal lost his third Madrid final, the most he ever dropped at a Masters clay-court tournament.
Murray became the fourth player to top Nadal in the final of a clay-court tournament, the others being Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Horacio Zeballos.
With the win, Murray ran his streak of taking home at least two titles during a season to nine consecutive years.
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