By Ros Satar, in Madrid

  • Andy Murray [2] v Gilles Simon [16]
  • H2H: Murray leads 13-2

MADRID, SPAIN – Defending champion Andy Murray faces another tricky customer Gilles Simon for a spot in the quarter-finals.

It has already been a bit of a challenge for the Brit, defending a title on clay for the first time in his career, and of course many will remember Simon’s match against Novak Djokovic at this year’s Australian Open, where the World No.1 notched up 100 unforced errors.

What people tend to forget is that Simon makes counterpunching almost like an art form. A patient, well placed game with plenty of movement around the court sounds like it could be entertaining but in reality we can expect a gruelling match.

Murray’s instinctive pattern of play is much the same – waiting for the opponent to hit the error, and making them play that extra point, and probably there is a reason why the organisers have opted to put this as the first match of the day.

Reasons to maybe think it will be ok in the end for the Brit – the only time Simon has beaten him on the dirt was the first time they met, at the Rome Masters in 2007, and since then, Murray Simon the remaining four has had the measure of times they have met, although their most recent clashes have been tight three-setters.

Simon has been getting a lot more time on the ‘terre battue’, packing in a run to the quarter-final in Estoril, although before we get too excited, it was one win and a loss.

Simon’s path thus far has been a tough one, with three setters against Marcos Baghdatis and Pablo Carreno Busta. While Stepanek gave Murray a headache, bear in mind at night the conditions change here too, as well as the altitude, but this will be no easy task.

At his best Simon will match Murray for every manoeuvre, every drop shot, every rush to the net, and while we certainly don’t expect 100 unforced errors, the fact remains, it will be a contest of who binks first in this cat and mouse contest,.

Prediction: Murray to win in three sets.

Murray and Simon are scheduled on Court Manolo Santana at 12pm (11am BST).

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