Nadal braced for tough semi against Murray


Rafael Nadal might have form over Andy Murray ahead of their Madrid Open semi-final, but the Spaniard knows he will need to be at his best to progress at the expense of the Scot.

Nadal saw of Joao Sousa 6-0 4-6 6-3 on Friday to set up the blockbuster semi.

Fifth seed Nadal has beaten Murray on each of the last two occasions, at the ATP World Tour Finals and then in the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters just three weeks ago, but the 'King of Clay' is not taking anything for granted.

"We know each other very well," said Nadal. "It's a question of playing my best, and if I am playing my best, I hope to have my chances. If not, it will be almost impossible.

"Andy played the semi-finals in Monte-Carlo winning good matches, and was close to beating me in the semi-finals. Last year he won here, so he knows how to play very well here. That's a great level that he's playing.

"He's a player that can win against everybody. I know it's going to be a very hard match for me, but I am going to be fighting."

Of his quarter-final triumph over Sousa, Nadal praised his opponent for his performance, which pushed the more-fancied Spaniard to a third set.

"I played pretty well in the first set," said Nadal.

"Perhaps he made a few errors, but also I think I played with very high intensity in the first set. I was hurting him with my balls and playing long and I was in control of the point most of the time.

"Winning 6-0 against a player like Joao in a quarter-final here in Madrid, it just doesn't happen. After that it started raining. The ball was a little bit heavier. I missed a few good opportunities. I had to suffer. I had to fight back and look for a solution. I managed to find a solution and solve it."