Andy Murray faces Gilles Simon in Thursday’s action at the Madrid Open and he is first on court on Sky Sports 3 from 11am.
Murray’s Masters route
Plotting Murray’s route to glory in Madrid
Murray beat Radek Stepanek in three sets on Tuesday and in game that will have blown away the cobwebs after a few weeks off following his run to the semi-finals in Monte Carlo he will have been pleased to pick up the match practice.
The British No 1 and world No 2 boasts a 13-2 record in the head-to-head with the Frenchman, including their last meeting in the Davis Cup last year.
However, Simon saw off Murray in straight sets in Rotterdam last season, the last time the pair met on the ATP Tour, victory ending a run of 12 straight wins for Murray.
On clay, it is Murray who also has the clear advantage winning all five of their meetings since losing in Rome in 2007, including the Madrid final in 2008 where the Scot won in straight sets.
Murray is up in the first match of the day and will be followed on the main show court by world No 1 Novak Djokovic, who faces Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and in-form Rafa Nadal, who faces American Sam Querrey.
Tomas Berdych has surprisingly yet to reach a final this year, with the usual mix of quarter and semi-final runs in his campaign to date.
The world No 8 from the Czech Republic has also only won one Masters title in Paris way back in 2005, having lost his last three finals at 1000 level.
However, he looked in good touch when seeing off Denis Istomin on Wednesday and his match with David Ferrer has an intriguing look with Ferrer working his way back to his best form.
Ferrer has an 8-5 advantage in the head-to-head and is ranked just one place behind Berdych – so with nothing between the players we can expect a cracker to be the pick of Thursday’s proceedings.
The Spaniard has been taken to the limit in his two matches so far this week and like Berdych has just one Masters title to his name (also Paris in 2012) – only one man will have the chance of a second this week.
Surprise in Store
On paper there is not much between Richard Gasquet and Kei Nishikoriand we could easily have put this battle between world No 12 and world No 6 in the one-to-watch section.
However, on closer inspection, Gasquet has a 6-0 advantage in the head-to-head between the pair so we are tipping the Frenchman to cause a surprise despite Nishikori’s impressive clay-court form.
Nick Kyrgios and Pablo Cuevas have both caused upsets of their own on route to the last 16 and they clash in what should be an entertaining battle between two unseeded players, Kyrgios is likely to start as favourite but Cuevas is a lively danger and already has two clay-court titles under his best this season
Kei Nishikori survived a scare to come through in three sets against Fabio Fognini, but Stan Wawrinka’s form showed no signs of returning as he was beaten by 7-6 7-6 by Nick Kyrgios.
And world No 1 Novak Djokovic put his second round defeat in Monte Carlo behind, on his first outing since losing to Jiri Vesely he came though in straight sets against Croatian teenager Borna Coric.