Andy Murray could meet Rafael Nadal in the third round of this week's Masters Series tournament here, but the Scot is looking no further ahead than his opening match today against Juan Martin del Potro. "I've not won too many matches on clay and I've never won a match in Rome before," Murray pointed out yesterday. "I'm looking to win my first match and I'm not worrying about Nadal."
While Nadal was enjoying his 103rd win in his last 104 matches on clay, beating David Ferrer to claim the title in Barcelona yesterday, Murray was on the practice court, having taken two days off after suffering a slight groin injury playing doubles in Spain. The British No 1 faces a tricky opponent in Del Potro, who claimed a significant scalp last week with victory over Igor Andreev.
This afternoon's winner will meet Stanislas Wawrinka or Marat Safin. Murray has beaten Wawrinka twice this year but has played Safin only once before, losing in three sets in Cincinnati three years ago. Andy Roddick and James Blake, never at their best on clay, are also in the lower half of the draw. Roger Federer has a harder-looking task in the top section, with Ferrer and Novak Djokovic his scheduled opponents in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.
In Barcelona, Nadal held off a stirring fightback from Ferrer to beat his fellow Spaniard 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 yesterday and become the first man to win the Barcelona Open in four consecutive years.
The top seed romped through the first set but Ferrer hit back and Nadal had to dig deep to clinch his 25th career title, making it back-to-back tournament wins after his triumph in the Monte Carlo Masters.
Nadal tore through Ferrer in the first set but the second seed went on the attack himself in the second set and deservedly pulled level. In the deciding set, after breaking Ferrer in the second game, Nadal eased to victory in two hours, 14 minutes.
In Munich, second seed Fernando Gonzalez won the Munich Open with a 7-6, 6-7, 6-3 victory over Italy's Simone Bolelli yesterday. Bolelli, who upset top seed Paul-Henri Mathieu to reach the final, recovered from losing the first set 7-4 on the tiebreak to level the match by taking the second.
The unseeded Italian kept fighting but fell a crucial break behind at 2-3 in the deciding set. He then missed break-point chances and Gonzalez held firm to clinch the match.
Results, Digest, page 37 Nadal: clay court master, Independent website