Andy Murray took centre stage on Saturday at the Caja Mágica, knocking out home crowd favourite Rafael Nadal 7-5, 6-4 in the opening match of the day. The world number two was in devastating form from the outset but Nadal dug deep and managed to break his opponent when Murray was serving for the opening set. However, far from buckling under the Spaniard’s pressure, the second seed took the first set on the Nadal serve in the following game. The second followed a similar script to the first. Murray opened up a 4-2 lead only to be pegged back to 5-4 by a Nadal break, but then broke back immediately and went on to claim victory with Nadal serving to stay in the match. On Sunday, Murray will aim to retain his Madrid crown and his place in the ATP ranking. The Olympic champion has never successfully defended a title on clay so the challenge is a considerable one.
In the day’s second semi-final, sixth seed Kei Nishikori took on world number one Novak Djokovic, who booked his place in the final with a two-set victory, 6-3, 7-6. Sunday’s showpiece will be the Serbian’s second Mutua Madrid Open final, following his 2011 triumph over Nadal. The Caja Mágica crowd were treated to a spectacular encounter. Despite Djokovic controlling the first set comfortably, Nishikori was determined not to let the match run away from him. The 2014 runner-up broke Djokovic in the second set and saved four match points on the Serb’s serve to force a tie-break, during which the world number one imposed his authority and sealed victory.
In the men’s doubles semi-finals, Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau sprung a surprise by beating top seeds and winners of the last three Masters tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas, in straight sets, while Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea saw off Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo in the super tie-break to book their place in Sunday’s final.