Tennis

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to end long wait in Rome

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will come face-to-face in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters after both men won their third round matches.

It has been almost three years since the pair met on the court, but that spell will be ended when the two clash in the Italian capital for a place in the last four.

Nadal came through his encounter with Mikhail Youzhny with a 6-7 6-2 6-1 win.

The world no.1 has had to deal with question marks over his form in the face of recent defeats in last-eight ties at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, as well as his performance in the final of Madrid last week - Kei Nishikori's injury, when a set up, helped the Spaniard retain his crown. 

It started badly today too. 

The 31-year-old Youzhny has been in the world's top 10 before and he won the first set after recovering from a 5-3 deficit to then have the upper-hand in the tie-break.

However, Nadal sensed he was on the back-foot and he eventually started advancing through his many gears. It wasn't before he found himself a break down early in the second set though

At 2-0 down, he eventually leveled things up. Then the 27-year-old really showed why he is the 'King of Clay', he won ten out of 11 games to advance through in pursuit of his eight Rome title.

Earlier in the day, Murray celebrated his 27th birthday with a 7-6 6-4 success over Jurgen Melzer.

It ended up being a comfortable victory for the British no.1, but things started difficultly. His Austrian opponent broke his serve in the first game of match.

With Melzer at 3-1, Murray was determined not to suffer another shock defeat as he did in the Madrid Masters and he overturned his disadvantage.

There would be no other breaks of serve in a tightly contested first set before the stalemate was broken in the tie-breaker which Murray cruised in winning 7-1.

If that tie-break had affected Melzer's morale, then the world no.7 certainly made sure his opponent would remain under the cosh as he cruised into a 2-0 lead in the second and final set.

Murray may have believed he was in for a birthday treat from that moment but the current world no.73 proved he is no slouch on the clay. The 2010 French Open semi-finalist fought back against the Brit to make it 3-3, only lose his serve once again in the next game.

This time Murray was in no mood to let his advantage slip once more as he wrapped up the match.

Despite not clashing since Murray won the Tokyo Open final in 2011, the duo have faced each other 18 times. They were due to play in the 2012 Miami Masters but the Brit received a walkover.

Nadal has the better of their head-to-head record with 13 success. Murray's Tokyo win ended a run of five straight wins for the Spaniard. Between them they have 15 Grand Slam titles, but Nadal has 13 of those too. 

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Topics:
Andy Murray
Tennis
Rafael Nadal

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