By Ros Satar, in Madrid

  • Andy Murray [2] def. Gilles Simon [16] 6-4 6-2
  • Meets Tomas Berdych in the QF
  • H2H: Murray leads 7-6

MADRID, SPAIN – Andy Murray eased past old foe Gilles Simon on a cloudy day in Madrid, and will face Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

It was a far easier outcome than initially anticipated as the hot weather of the past couple of days gave way to more cloudy and breezy conditions. In fact the conditions seem set to stay a more British shade of grey as the vibrant Spanish sunshine seems to have deserted us.

The early exchanges looked and felt a little tentative, as it was the Frenchman first to try and put Murray under pressure, but not quite bringing up a break point. That first honour went to the Brit, and although he could not convert, he broke for the set.

Maybe that was the spur he needed for a little more confidence as he jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Simon got on the board. Even a spectator medical emergency failed to dent Murray’s momentum as he closed out a far more comfortable win than most would have guessed.

After the match, he said: “It was quite cool and a little bit breezy and the conditions were a little bit heavier. In the beginning both of us made a lot of mistakes in the net. Last couple of days the ball has been a lot livelier. Took both of us a bit of time to adjust to that. After the first six or seven games really started to hit the ball well. I served well throughout the match. It was a good performance.

“Normally against Gilles it’s always a complicated match because of the way he plays. He always makes it very difficult. There are a lot of long rallies. Because of the conditions, because it was a bit faster, I was able to get a lot more free points on my serve. I don’t think he had any break points in the match, so that helped. I served very well. It was a good performance. I played smart tennis. That was the difference.”

He will face Berdych in the quarter-finals, and thus is presented with a different challenge – with just a slim lead in their head to head, Murray has yet to get the better of the Czech on the dirt. In fact the last time they met on the clay was here in Madrid in the 2013 quarter-final where Berdych edged the Brit out.

Of course since then, the Brit has gone on to conquer the clay and make it a surface where he feels confident of good performances, Add to that the levels of aggressive play that Murray can seem to add to his game whenever he has a match up with Berdych, and the fact that their last three encounters have gone the way of Murray.

One thing that was evident when Berdych changed his coaching team was that he put a lot of faith in the game plan. The issue though is that sometimes he seems to lack the basic intuition to adjust his game when the plan isn’t working.

While the Czech remains largely consistent in his results, the corresponding silverware has been slow to materialise. That being said their clay court matches have been tightly contested in the past and with a first clay court title to defend, we need to see Murray step up a gear here.

Prediction: Murray in three sets

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