After the first set (during which David didn't manage to hold serve once) it looked like this match would turn into a complete debacle. But even if in the end, it was Andy Murray, who prevailed 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 after two hours and 37 minutes, in sets two three David played some amazing tennis. And that's hopefully what he'll be able to take from this match.
Photos and everything else tomorrow...
|(AP Photo/Getty Images; montage by VD)|
5.23pm local - David's match is now next up on the Campeo Centrale. At last...
When last week the controversy raged about the blue and slippery courts at Madrid, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic threatening the boycott the tournament next year while Roger Federer won the title in the end, the only top player who didn't take part in the debate, nor in the tournament itself, was Andy Murray. Having pulled out of Madrid, he spent the last week in Rome, getting ready for this event and for this match, his first one at Rome, this year.
For Andy Murray, ranked #4, there's been only one tournament this season where he didn't at least make it to the quarterfinal. That was Indian Wells, where he went out in the second round. But apart from that, Murray won the title at Brisbane, he was a finalist at Dubai and Miami and reached the semifinal at the Australian Open. On clay, Murray has had two quarterfinal appearances so far, at Monte Carlo (lost to Berdych) and Barcelona (lost to Raonic).
Today's match will be the seventh meeting between David and Andy Murray and by now, the match record stands at 4-2 for Murray. The last five of their six matches so far I covered here on VD (Paris 2008, Toronto 2010, Paris 2010, Cincy 2011 and Tokyo 2011), among them the four defeats in a row that David suffered the last four times they met.
What their previous matches have shown, including those that David lost, is that he usually has a shot at breaking Murray's serve - but also that Murray won't let David get away with playing any sloppy service games of his own. In most of their previous matches they were fairly evenly matched from the baseline so in the end, it was the serve and the ability to hold serve that made the difference. Whether it'll be the same again today, in what's going to be their first ever encounter on clay - the match will give the answers.