Even after the match, as the trophy ceremony rolled on, fans were asking themselves, “Did that just happen?”
Andy Murray rolled over an absolutely lost-looking Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday at the Spaniard’s home-country tournament at the Mutua Madrid Open, leaving Nadal’s French Open hopes in disarray.
Murray was spectacular in claiming his second career claycourt title and second in a row after Munich, but Nadal nonetheless was a confidence-challenged car crash. In the second set the Spaniard ground-balled an ordinary two-handed backhand groundstroke, and sent rally-level forehands 10 feet long, shaking his head and smiling ruefully at his lack of control.
“I [can] leave happy and just delete what happened today,” said Nadal, pointing toward earlier matches where he says he made progress, while still looking for a first clay court title during the run-up to the French Open. “I will just stay with the good things that happened this week, and there are a lot of them, more good than bad. I will try to recover in Rome [next week] the feelings.”
Murray on the other hand had nothing but feelings during the final, taking control of points early and feasting on Nadal’s short ground strokes, the majority of which bounced in the service box during rallies.
“I think I wasn’t expecting this a couple of weeks ago, so when things are unexpected, it feels nicer,” Murray said. “I didn’t feel like I put too much pressure on myself the past couple of weeks, which is a good thing. Obviously to win a Masters 1000 on clay for me is a step in the right direction. It’s something I had never done before. So that’s good progress there. To win against Rafa on clay in a final in Spain is an extremely difficult thing to do.”
The world No. 3 is undefeated since getting married and has captured his first two career clay court titles in high fashion, after the match signing a camera lens with “marriage works.”
Murray is now 1-6 vs. Nadal on clay and 6-15 [CORRECTED] on all surfaces, and the win knocks Nadal out of the Top 5 rankings to No. 7. The Scot is 2-2 in finals [CORRECTED] for 2015 after runner-up efforts at the Australian Open and Miami, both losses to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
Both Murray and Nadal will be among the elite competing in Rome next week, Nadal’s final chance to earn a title and some confidence in the run-up to Roland Garros.
In the women’s final Petra Kvitova followed up her stunning victory over world No. 1 Serena Williams in the semifinals, halting the American’s winning streak at 27, by steamrolling former world No. 2 and French Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-2 for the Madrid crown.
Kuznetsova en route to the final posted Top 10 wins over Ekaterina Makarova and Maria Sharapova.
“I knew that I had to play aggressively because Svetlana’s a great player on clay, and the last time we played in Paris, I lost to her when we played the normal rallies,” Kvitova said. “So I knew that I had to make a lot of winners, and I knew I that had to go for the volley if I got the opportunity.”
She improved to 16-5 in career WTA finals.
“I think I’m probably the kind of person who likes to play these kinds of big matches, to play the finals, the big tournaments, the Grand Slams, playing on the big stadiums,” Kvitova said. “Finals are why we’re all playing tennis. We want to win the big tournaments and see these beautiful trophies.”
In the 2015-only point standings she vaults from 15 to No. 6, and suddenly the former Wimbledon champ is in the discussion for a first French Open title.
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