Nadal Downs Dimitrov, Faces Berdych In Madrid SFs; Murray Meets Nishikori
by Staff | May 8th, 2015, 8:55 pm
  • 103 Comments

With just a few weeks from the French Open, Rafael Nadal continues to (re)build confidence. Today, the 2-time defending Madrid champion cruised past Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4

“Overall I’m satisfied; I’m happy,” said Nadal after his 13th straight win at the tournament. “I have made it to the semi-finals, and I think that’s a great result for me, especially after losing in Barcelona the way I did.

“My goal is [to] feel myself playing better every day. That’s my real goal. Then obviously, the goal is always the same, [to] try to have the [best] result possible.”

Nadal will now face Tomas Berdych in a rematch of their Australian Open quarterfinal won by the Czech. Berdych advanced after saving a second set matchpoint against American John Isner 3-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(1).

“I’m really looking forward [to] that challenge,” Berdych said of playing Nadal. “It’s going to be a nice match.”

Despite the win in Melbourne, Berdych is still down 18-4 to Rafa and has never beaten the Spaniard on clay (0-6) losing 13 straight sets.

In the second semi, a resurgent Andy Murray takes on Kei Nishikori. Murray remained perfect as a married man (7-0) after beating an ailing Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-5. Raonic admitted to having a chronic pinched nerve in his right foot.

Meanwhile, Murray, who won his first clay title earlier this week in Munich, credited his movement for the win.

“I feel like I’ve been moving well,” said Murray. “The first couple of weeks on the clay, I tried to work on it quite a lot in my training block before I started playing the tournaments.

“Because I feel healthy this year, I’m not worrying about my back or worrying about things when I am put in difficult positions on court. That obviously gives me a bit more confidence in the movement.”

Nishikori wrapped up the day easing past Spanish veteran David Ferrer 6-4, 6-2. Nishikori now leads Ferrer 8-4 winning six of their last seven.

The 25-year-old Nishikori made the final in Madrid last year, but is just 1-3 vs Murray. However, Nishikori won their last meeting at the London finals and this is their first clash on clay, the Scots least favorite surface.

SATURDAY MADRID SCHEDULE
MANOLO SANTANA Start Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [6] T. Berdych (CZE) vs [3] R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – Singles Final – [4] P. Kvitova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)
WTA – Doubles Final – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)


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103 Comments for Nadal Downs Dimitrov, Faces Berdych In Madrid SFs; Murray Meets Nishikori

skeezer Says:

Would not be surprised if Birdsh!t wins this one. Not convinced that Nadal is in uncrackable mode.


kjb Says:

^I agree, Grigors poor play didn’t give us much to go on. I would like to see a Nishikori/Nadal final though, Kei is playing great.


Michael Says:

Well, I saw a reinvigorated Rafa against Dmitrov when the former was firing all cylinders and was very near his best level. If Rafa’s ferocious top spin is working, then it is difficult to counter him on clay with the high bounce that he is able to extract. For Rafa, fortune at Madrid is crucial to determine his chances at Rolland Garros and I see him over indulgent and motivated to defend his title. Against Berdych, I favour Rafa this time around in straight sets.


Matador Says:

Madrid and Paris conditons are different, Michael.
Rome is more likely tough.


Nitesh Says:

I want Nadal Murray final


the DA Says:

@Nitesh – You’re not alone. I want to see what Andy can do against Rafa at altitude. We saw what he is capable of in Rome last year. If only he had held for 2 more games it would have been the best clay victory of his career. Come to think of it, if only he had held serve for 1 game in 2011. What is it about you Rome??

Anyway. I’m glad he got through last night but I’m a little concerned at how tough it was to finish off a hobbled opponent. Is he feeling the effects of 7 matches in 7 days and ridiculous scheduling? Or is Milos just able to still play his game despite a sore foot? Andy seemed flat to me. I’m not sure Muzz of last night gets through the Nish-scary of the Ferrer match.

That said, few players are able to adapt according to their opponent as well as Murray. Ferru just kept feeding balls with pace into Kei’s strike zones on both flanks. Muzz is capable of switching things up with pace, spin, flat, slice to ensure that Kei never gets the same ball twice and disrupt his rhythm. That might be the key. Oh, and 1st serves anywhere over 60%.

Lastly, it’s ridiculous scheduling (again) to have one SF at 3:00pm and the other at 8:00pm. Why not both back to back and the women’s final afterwards? ATP, sort this out!


Margot Says:

@ the DA
I’m not convinced Andy will get through Kei for the simple reason I think Kei is better than Andy on clay.
Very happy to be proved wrong and Andy has an infinite capacity to surprise, dismay, enchant of course.
Thought Milos woke up and played better in the second set. In spite of being “hobbled” he still managed to serve some bombs.
Oh those oh so mean drip shots…..;) Turning on the torture.


Margot Says:

lol “drip” “drop” whatever, the effect was the same.


madmax Says:

Margot,

have more faith in Andy.

He grew up on clay as you know, and played extremely well in Munich – won the title, even now, he is solid.

Has every chance in my view.


Margot Says:

@madmax
Andy did not “grow up on clay” he grew up on hard and indoor.
He only went to Barcelona when he was 15/16 and stayed 18 months.


SL Says:

Nadal will probably be hammered by Berdych. He is clearly in sharp decline for the last one year. Its a question of how many games he can win, not if he can win the match. He played poorly against Dimitrov, and was lucky that Grigor played even worse. Like all Rafa admirers, I would like to believe he is getting back to good form, but he clearly is not. I don’t think he will be a major factor in men’s tennis ever again. May well finish the year outside the top 10, if not the top 20.


Daniel Says:

Berdych first serve percentage is awful today, below 40%


Daniel Says:

Nadal’s FHnis excelent today. He hasn’t made a single error compared to other days.


jalep Says:

I just realized the match is on. Not much hope for Berdych. Can’t buy a 1st serve. That 2nd serve I just saw was brave.


Daniel Says:

Berdych misses all 3 first serves in tiebreak


jalep Says:

Either Andy or Kei can put up more challenge than this.


jalep Says:

Pathetic from Berdych.


the DA Says:

Tomas had so many weak 2nd serves but didn’t do anything with them. His own fault. The more time you give Rafa, the more he plays himself into peak form. Then you start seeing bananas everywhere.


Daniel Says:

Nadal is serving much better today, hasn’t face a BP so far.


Daniel Says:

If Berdych can’t do nothing on Nadal’s serve anymore eventually he will get broken


jalep Says:

But nearly all Rafa’s serves are returnable v Nole, Andy, or Kei.

Rafa on his A game would beat today’s Berdych 63 62.


Daniel Says:

Berdych complaining about people in the stands.
40-15 and now BP


Daniel Says:

Berdych feeling the pressure and missing way more. Inevitable happen, he is not serving great, not returning great, can’t win like this.
Nadal to cruise this set 6-2 or 6-3. And finally getting back to a final of big tourney. Let’s see if we’ll have a rematch of last years final or if Andy will keep his new found clay groove.


jalep Says:

He was complaining about people fanning themselves…their fanning themselves in the heat right behind him was too distracting.


Daniel Says:

Well, Isner at least would have the serve bombs and the way he played Nadal in MC maybe he would have a better chance here. This is over, Berdych is even DF


Daniel Says:

Nadal inside out FT is working the best this year


Daniel Says:

This match is kind of dull, we haven’t seen a single volley or a drop shot which for clay is very odd. And hardly any passing shot. Remember one for Nadal


jalep Says:

Berdych trying for 2 games this set but he nets the easiest shots.I think he just wants out of there…lol…


jalep Says:

Congrats Dr.Rafa…and fans.


Giles Says:

To all the naysayers, TAKE THAT!!
Vamos Champ!


Margot Says:

Thought Rafa looked good. His 4hand was humming and back hand OK.
Berd no opposition tho.


Giles Says:

jalep. Hahaha. Thanx


jalep Says:

Thinking the other semifinal will be quite the opposite – exciting and competitive.


Giles Says:

@SL. You were saying???


Mathews Says:

Great game by Rafa. Go for Rome and Paris


jalep Says:

But Berd put no pressure on Rafa whatsoever. Rafa realized it a little late that he could just relax and swing freely.

Berdych did the same v Andy somewhere recently…was it Miami?


Margot Says:

Hi jalep :)
Looking 4ward to Women’s final.
Ahem….I was right about Kei….;)


skeezer Says:

Doubters of Rafa’s chances on Clay this year are in for an awakening. He is starting his charge back to defend RG.


Giles Says:

skeezer. But you tipped Birdsh!t to win!


Margot Says:

jalep, it was Miami indeedy. Apparently Andy hadn’t read the rule book and didn’t play as Berd had expected. Lol


jalep Says:

Hello Margot. Always a pleasure you are.

Yes! Very much looking forward to Sveta and Petra.

Oh yes. You were right about Kei v Ferrer. Kei actually decimated Ferrer that 2nd set, which did surprise me.

Andy won’t be so easy. Both Kei and Andy are crafty players. I hope Andy wins but…may the best and fittest, cleverest player win ;) and whoever wins, wins the title.

I picked Andy over Rafa at the start and got lmao’d by Matador …probably others.


jane Says:

why is there such a huge gap between the two men’s semis? that’s strange isn’t it? aren’t they usually back to back at most events?


Margot Says:

Wowzer! Petra’s serve, unreturnable at the mo. She looks slimmer to me, jalep?
I think this gap is due to making up for bad scheduling, Kei played a late match yesterday and we all know about the fiasco concerning Andy.


Giles Says:

The schedule in Madrid for the semis is the same every year.


jalep Says:

Petra is in awesome shape. That time she took off has paid dividends! Attacking game – serve is a beauty…

Sveta called the trainer. Hope she doesn’t need to retire.


Margot Says:

jalep have hopped over to other thread.


KatH Says:

And they had the schedule for todays semis listed in the afternoon yesterday – so what does that say – the “organisers” don’t give a monkey!!!! (I know it’s not Rafa’s fault, but certainly reeks of favouritism).

What on earth happened to Tomas? – he was really the best player for most of the 1st set.


jalep Says:

The final tomorrow is late afternoon/evening isn’t it? Still advantage Rafa for a easy draw and plenty of rest time.

Whatever. It’s Madrid. Everyone favors their own. Doesn’t assure anyone the win, just gives them the edge.

Not a whole lot Sveta can do. Petra return of serve deep. Finishing points fast…wow


Giles Says:

If the scheduling is considered as favouritism according to @KatH, well why not? Rafa is the defending champion AND the local hero. I know it sucks but ……. it is what it is.


Nirmal Kumar Says:

After a long time, we could see Rafa play to his potential. Not his best yet, but definitely in the mode of a FO champion. If he could dig deep into Rome, he would definitely be the favorite for the FO.


Nitesh Says:

Nadal match on Sunday !!! Aha great


jane Says:

commentator noting that andy has advantage over kei in both serve and return department. early goings but that seems to be true.


jalep Says:

This is tough going for Kei. Andy is everything Kei is only bigger stronger and healthy this year. His back troubles over.

Married life seems to suit him. Nice pics, Margot.


the DA Says:

They’re both bringing their A games. Andy’s returns and BHDTL are on fire. Kei’s BH is, as usual, lethal. Everyone wrote Andy off. Glad to see him putting up a fight.


jane Says:

agree jalep. and if we look at andy’s track record this year, only novak stopped him at bigger events: australian & the 2 hard court masters. he’s back to his best form, which bodes well, especially for his grass play.


jalep Says:

Liking the tennis. Is Rafa still in Andy’s head a little?


jalep Says:

Wow…what a battle at duece!
Some incredible tennis
Andy finally holds though.


jalep Says:

Now Kei’s turn to try and hold but already a Andy BP

Andy gets it. 4-3 if Kei can’t break back…1st set will be his.


jane Says:

“Is Rafa still in Andy’s head a little?”

hope not. it’d be good to see andy get a win over him, and the faster madrid clay might be his best bet.


jalep Says:

Will be his…Andy’s.
I just give him the edge here. I don’t think Kei has a higher level – he’s giving his all and it’s not quite enough.

5-3


jane Says:

kei seems slow today.
first set to andy.


jalep Says:

Hope not too because Kei plays well v Rafa, jane.

1st set Andy 6-3


Margot Says:

Andy not giving Kei the rhythm he likes. Very clever play so far.
yes jane, I think Kei a bit subdued today, so far says she hastily.
jalep, Andy and Rafa have not played for yoinks but Nole is occupying enough space in Andy’s head, we don’t want someone else taking up residence…;)


jalep Says:

Andy plays this well and he can beat Rafa on this clay court.


jane Says:

jalep i meant it’d be good to see andy get a win over rafa. not sure if that was clear.

i know kei plays well versus rafa, but he’s 0-7 against him, whereas at least andy is 5-15 and has some wins.


the DA Says:

A near perfect set of tennis from Andy. Kei was great up until the last game, faded a little. woo hoo


Margot Says:

Have got brilliant com., a Brit, don’t know who but loads of analysis and NO waffle. I am in lerve..;)
jalep, take a look at those pics, Andy looks…shhh…almost handsome…..;)


jalep Says:

Lol Margot – re Nole.

This 2nd set could be over quick. Kei feeling the pressure.

Kei is trying his best. He lacks a serve weapon against the top guys.


jalep Says:

Yes he does :D Margot.


KatH Says:

Its my evening meal time – and it is getting cold as I’ve been playing a “pretend-God” with my crystals – yes I’m daft – but who cares if Andy wins?????????


jane Says:

analysis on twitter showed how andy’s been driving his backhand deeper and wider than kei.

agree about the serve jalep.


jane Says:

kei has a fabulous drop shot.


Margot Says:

Kei playing better and usual focus flip from Andy who is playing worse and I don’t like 1st serve % either.


jane Says:

i wish this were the first semi.


jalep Says:

You are right, jane. I’m thinking of last Madrid when Kei had Rafa on the ropes. 5-15 Andy-Rafa…not great either for how long they have played each other. But I’m not familiar enough with their h2h…maybe many of those wins are on clay.

This clay gives him the best shot at it.

Oops while typing Kei got a break. Guess I might be writing him off too soon. ..


jalep Says:

Jane – About Andy beating Rafa tho…I’d like to see it too …but but be careful what we wish for…


jalep Says:

Andy breaks right back and easily holds. 3-2


Margot Says:

Better serving = easy hold.
They really ought to make me a tennis coach…;)


the DA Says:

A second consecutive easy hold *unicorns*. Andy knows he needs to get this done in 2. Vital.


KatH Says:

Margot
Can’t comment on your coaching skills Margot, but certainly a class above some of the commentators…


jalep Says:

Gosh Kei gets kudos for trying. Saves his service game. ..barely.


jane Says:

at times andy’s played quite far back versus kei, jalep. not sure he’d get away with that versus rafa. he’ll have to hug the baseline. and serve very well. but i think he can win or at least give rafa a good test for his money!


jalep Says:

Lacks the serve weapon Kei.

Matchpoint Andy!

*hugs* for all the Andy fans!


jane Says:

good win by andy. congrats to him for his first clay masters final. and congrats margot, the da and colin, his longtime fans round here. looking forward to the final!


Markus Says:

Good job by Andy. As usual, all these supposedly next in line players are gone by the time the finals come, hardly even made it to the semis except for Nishikori. Too bad, Nishikori is too small to really matter.


Margot Says:

Wow! That was surprisingly easy!
Tips chapeau to madmax.
Cheers and hugs to jane and jalep
Why thank you KatH. All compliments welcome :)
Raises glass to DA and KatH.
Now poor Amelie can get an early night. She looked exhausted.


the DA Says:

@Jane – Thanks. I know he’s always been your 2nd fav so you’re happy too. That was the best clay match I’ve seen him play. He didn’t get down on himself when was broken, he took care of business and kept his focus. I’m loving Momo-Bjorkman. Hell, I’m loving everything right now. Best of all: all his detractors thought he’d be slaughtered tonight.


jalep Says:

True jane. He has to be like Nole!! Own the baseline, find the weakness…play with confidence. Serve well and win it Andy! Would be so proud of him.


jane Says:

i know the da – all the betting odds were against andy, but he sure showed them. ;)

andy can do it jalep: i hope he believes he can. he needs to use that great backhand of his.


Travis Bickle Says:

@jalep
“He has to be like Nole”
Ha ha, good luck with that!


django Says:

Giles who you got for tomorrow?


Markus Says:

Never a doubt that when Djokovic is not in the field, Nadal will run away with it. I wish Andy will be able to play the best he can and I wish him well. But this is going to be Nadal’s, and it will be his springboard to his 10th French.


jane Says:

if andy wins tomorrow, i believe that means novak, fed, rafa and andy would all have won clay titles.


Colin Says:

As the DA remarked, Andy is particularly good at adapting his game to the opposition. The crafty Nishikori was himself outfoxed!

Living in the UK, I liked the interval between the semis. It gave me time to have my evening meal between 6 and 7 PM London time.

I shall not be amazed if Andy pulls off a win tomorrow. If he could, it would make the rest of the clay season very interesting.


Giles Says:

django. RAFA


Margot Says:

I’m just hoping Andy gives it his best shot tomorrow but we all know Rafa will raise his game and he did look good today.
Que sera.


Margot Says:

@jane
Andy has already won a baby clay ;)


the DA Says:

Here are some telling stats from the match. Winners: Andy 24, Kei, 19 (not bad for the “pusher” some label him to be): 59% 1st serves (I did say 60% or over yesterday) and 54% 2nd serve points won compared to Kei’s 44%.

Hearing that Andy might pull outof Rome and don’t blame him. 8 matches in 8 days. I think he’ll give everything that’s left in the tank tomorrow to get that milestone win and then have a much needed break before RG.


KatH Says:

Absolutely fantastic – greetings to all. Rafa may well win, but my goodness can you imagine how puffed up Andy will be – hope he manages to sleep tonight.


jane Says:

oh margot, that’s right of course – last week in munich. so now all of the big 4 have won a clay event. i find that very interesting. first time ever. and it makes the situation more diverse and intense, leading into the french. players like kei, berdych and even isner have also performed well.


SL Says:

@ Giles, I was wrong and happy to be so. Rafa played his best match in almost a year, especially that second set. However, look at what happened in the final against Andy. That supports my thesis that Rafa is in terminal decline, notwithstanding the odd good set.

He will drop to number 7 now and has too many points to defend in the next month. Good luck to him, but the signs continue to be bad.

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