Andy Murray believes quelling Rafael Nadal's increased intensity at the start of the second set was crucial to his brilliant semi-final victory at the Madrid Open on Saturday.
Defending champion Murray met the 'King of Clay' in a repeat of last season's final and ran out a 7-5 6-4 victor in the Spanish capital to end Nadal's 13-match winning streak.
It was a sweet victory for Murray after he was beaten by Nadal in the semi-finals in Monte Carlo last month, and on that occasion a stunning start to the second set proved crucial for the 14-time grand slam champion.
Nadal threatened a similar comeback here after earning three break points at the start of the second set, but Murray fended off the danger to earn a crucial hold and the Briton - who saved 11 of 13 break points - believes he was able to match his opponent's step up in quality.
"I think at the beginning of the second set in Monte Carlo he came out and really raised his intensity and I didn't and he got off to an early start in that second set," he said on court after his victory.
"Today that first game at the beginning of the second, again he raised the intensity and had a few break-point chances but I felt like I raised my level as well. That was important."
Murray goes on to face either world number one Novak Djokovic or Kei Nishikori in Sunday's final.