Rome Masters 2014: Andy Murray looks forward to rare Rafael Nadal reunion as practice for French Open

The pair played each other 15 times between 2008 and 2011 and were in the same half of the draw at 10 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments


There was a time when Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal seemed to meet every other week but when they face each other here in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters it will be their first contest for nearly three years.

After Murray had beaten Austria's Jürgen Melzer 7-6, 6-4, you might have thought the Scot would have been pleased when Mikhail Youzhny took the first set against Nadal, but he welcomed the Spaniard's subsequent comeback. Nadal won 12 of the last 13 games to complete a 6-7, 6-2, 6-1 victory.

Nadal and Murray played each other 15 times between 2008 and 2011 and were paired in the same half of the draw at 10 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments. Nadal has won 13 of their 18 career meetings but lost their most recent encounter in the final of the 2011 Japan Open, when Murray dropped just four points in the deciding set.

Murray said: "With the French Open and Wimbledon coming up it's not a bad thing for me to play against Nadal because I haven't played him for about three years. I've hardly practised with him either. I used to practise with him quite a lot.

"I would actually be quite interested to play against him to see how his game has changed and also see the things I can do to make it difficult for him. I'm also sure there will be things that won't work against him that I'll need to change as well, so it might be better for me to play against him now rather than in the French or at Wimbledon."

Nadal might appear to be more vulnerable on clay this year, having lost in the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and occasionally struggled elsewhere, but Murray insisted: "He's won so many matches on this surface that there's always going to be a period where he maybe doesn't win for a couple of weeks. I'm sure that when the French Open comes round he'll be absolutely fine."

Until cakes were brought into the physio and interview rooms Murray might have been forgiven for thinking that he had got the date of his 27th birthday wrong. He received no presents and only two cards – from members of his entourage – but even stranger still was the fact that he won a match without getting injured. The only two occasions when he has retired hurt on the main tour were on his birthday in 2007 and last year.

The Scot did not need to raise his game to beat Melzer, who returned recently after six months out with a shoulder injury. Murray played a superb tie-break to win the first set, made a crucial break in the seventh game of the second and served well throughout. In tomorrow's semi-finals Nadal or Murray will face Tommy Haas or Grigor Dimitrov, who knocked out Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych respectively.

Maria Sharapova's run of 12 wins on clay was ended by Ana Ivanovic, while Serena Williams dropped only three games in beating Varvara Lepchenko. The world No 1 will meet China's Shuai Zhang in the quarter-finals.

Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own