Nadal's grass success inspires Murray on clay

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The Independent Online

Claycourt master Rafael Nadal's recent success on grass has inspired world number three Andy Murray to try to improve his poor record on the red dust.

The Briton, who leapfrogged Novak Djokovic into third place in the world rankings today, has never won a clay title on the ATP world tour and his best performance at the French Open was reaching the third round last year.

He has a record of 14 wins and 16 losses on the surface, while world number one Nadal, who will be bidding for a fifth straight French Open crown later this month, has won 173 and lost just 14, collecting 25 clay titles.

Murray said he was inspired by Nadal's epic victory over Roger Federer in last year's Wimbledon final, the Spaniard having lost to the Swiss in the previous two championship matches. Nadal also won the 2008 grass title at Queen's Club.

"Everything he's done on clay has been unbelievable but there are very few people who thought he would have won Wimbledon," Murray told a news conference at the Madrid Open clay event.

"I'm obviously very impressed with what he's done on clay but what he's done on grass has been a great motivation for me," he added.

"I feel like I can get better on clay and get to the second week and go deep at the French Open."

Murray said Nadal's relentless desire to improve, even after taking over the number one ranking, was the reason for his success.

"He's so far in front in the rankings and you see him on the practice court and he's always giving 110 percent," he said.

"That for me is a motivation to see someone like that who's been so successful still trying to improve."

After slipping up at the Rome Masters last month, where he lost to Juan Monaco of Argentina in the second round, Murray said he was hoping for a better performance in Madrid.

The altitude in the Spanish capital, which is around 650 metres (2,100 feet) above sea level, made the ball travel faster and suited his game better than the slower conditions at some of the other clay events, he added.

"After losing my first match in Rome I just want to try to win my first match here and then take each match as it comes.

"I've got a tricky draw here. The conditions are different and there's no use thinking about semi-finals or finals because I don't play well enough on this surface yet to think past my first match.

"I play the winner of two very solid clay-courters so I'm not going to think past them."

Murray has a bye into the second round and will play the winner of Monday's match between Italy's Simone Bolelli and Juan Ignacio Chela of Argentina for a place in the last 16.