ATP Madrid: Andy Murray breezes past Tomas Berdych to reach the last four

Andy Murray secured his first win over Tomas Berdych on the clay as he defeated the Czech 6-3, 6-2 under the roof of Court Manolo Santana at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Prior to this, their 14th meeting, Murray lead their head to head 7-6, but Berdych had won all of three previous meeting on the clay, including a straight sets win in Madrid at this stage in 2013.

Murray makes the first move

On this occasion, it was the world number two who made the fast start, winning all three opening games to put the eighth seed under severe pressure.

In the fourth game this pressure on Berdych’s serve continued, starting with a scintillating drop shot winner by Murray after an extended rally. The Czech guided a trademark flat backhand down the line winner to get to 15-15 before the Brit hit a forehand cross court winner. The eighth seed then clicked into gear and found some big first serves at a key time to secure his first hold of the match.

The Czech lets an opportunity slip by

After back to back service holds from both players Berdych began to apply pressure on his opponents serve. The eighth seed ripped two forehand winners up the line to get to 15-30, before Murray hit a strong second serve and finished the point off with a drop shot to recover to 30-all. The following point was key in deciding the fate of the first set. The Czech seemingly had the point in the bag but did not do enough with his first overhead smash. Murray’s retrieval skills are regarded as being one of the best in the game and he made his opponent play one more ball, which proved to be pivotal, as Berdych put this overhead over the baseline. Rather than being break point down Murray was able to get out of the game unscathed to take a 5-2 lead.

Frustrating day for Berdych as his struggle to consistently go head to head with the world's top five players continues. Photo: Getty
Frustrating day for Berdych as his struggle to consistently go head to head with the world’s top five players continues. Photo: Getty

The world number two takes the opening set

The missed overhead in the previous game seemed to significantly affect the Czech as he stepped up to serve to stay in the first set. Berdych dropped the opening two points before recovering to 40-30. But the eighth seed was not out of jail yet as he hit a double-fault followed by an error in an extended rally to present Murray with set point. The former Madrid finalist denied the defending champion on this occasion, forcing him to pull the backhand slice just wide. After a series of deuces, Berdych was eventually able to hold.

Murray was very much up to the task on serve, and the stats backed that up, losing just one point behind his first serve and winning 57% of points behind his second. The world number two closed out the set 6-3 in 48 minutes.

The Scot strolls through the second set

Both players held their opening two service games before Murray made the breakthrough. The Czech recovered from 15-30 to game point, but was then drawn into making errors, first into the net and then beyond the baseline to seal the first break in the set for the world number two.

After proceeding to hold serve to love, Murray made further moves on the Czech’s serve. The defending champion broke his serve once again in style, finishing with yet another drop shot winner  to leave himself serving for a place in the semifinals.

The world number two duly obliged, closing out the match with a strong unreturnable  second serve to win 6-3, 6-2 in just one hour and 16 minutes. An exceptional performance from Murray, dropping just two points behind his first serve all match and refreshingly to see, hitting the second serve consistently harder, winning 70 percent of points behind it. The defending champion will be very hard to beat in his semifinal match, where he awaits the winner of the match between Rafael Nadal and Joao Sousa.

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