Pick ’em, Madrid, May 10: Nadal vs. Murray in the final, both are on fire, but the Scot will play better than ever to stun the Spaniard


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Andy Murray is very confident now, so confident that he has a real chance to upset Rafael Nadal in the final. Yes, he has never beaten him on clay and he will be the underdog, but if he is being aggressive off both sides, he can crunch his serves and when he comes into the net, he will know exactly where he is going. He simply cannot hope that he can out-run him, but he can go side to side for a couple of hours and when he’s not very far behind the baseline or way outside with his long legs, he can swing his racket as hard as he can.

Unfortunately, Murray has not been able to get very close against Nadal on clay. Last year, Rafa smoked him 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 at Roland Garros. Clearly, Murray was tired after winning a very long match when he bested Gael Monfils in five sets, but that is the way it goes on clay. If you are going to win a massive tournament on dirt, you cannot be slow against the speedy Nadal.

Yes, the Spaniard has said all week that he was not quite there yet, but he is now: in the 7-6 6-1 win over Tomas Berdych, you could tell that he could hit as hard as he can and believed that he would deliver line after line, which he did. Here is what he said:

“Today I played again at a very good level. I did yesterday; today I played at a very, very high level. Let’s see tomorrow if I am able to continue with that positive feeling. This week has been fantastic for me. This is a very important result, and that’s confidence, that’s positive energy. That’s calm, too.”

Playing at home at Madrid, Nadal is very comfortable on the stadium court. He isn’t nervous there and he is very forceful. When Murray beat Kei Nishikori in straight sets, he said that he was “dictated a lot of the points, especially when he was serving, and it worked well.” If Murray wants to be close, he will have to be because if the Spaniard is dictating all the time he will win easy.

Murray has been unable to beat the other three men in the Big 4 since 2013, and he has to be able to knock out Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer at least one time this year because he has been very consistent this year. He will raise a trophy at one of the ATP Masters Series this season, but not yet, as Nadal is charging again and will win in two delicious sets.


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