Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych square off in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Madrid Open.
Each are ranked inside the Top 10, according to ATPWorldTour.com and possess the talent to win this tournament. And winning is vital, because with the French Open on the horizon Madrid will build confidence leading in.
Road to the Quarterfinals
Murray began as the No. 3 seed but is now the highest-seeded player remaining: Previously mentioned Djokovic and Federer were eliminated and Nadal entered in the No. 5 spot.
Although Murray defeated Florian Mayer of Germany in straight sets in Round 2, he didn't dominate. Mayer landed 12 aces and took Murray to the brink in each set. Unsurprisingly, that affected him against Gilles Simon who won the initial set over Murray 6-2.
Murray, though, displayed incredible tenacity and quickly responded by winning the second and third sets. Serving up nine aces also helped, because Simon ended up having trouble winning return points by comparison.
As for Berdych, he dropped his first set of the tournament to Poland's Jerzy Janowicz in extra games. But he immediately came back and rolled through sets two and three for the win.
Taking on Kevin Anderson of South Africa in Round 2, Berdych went to extra games in the first set. However, he avoided disaster and got a 7-5 victory thereafter to advance.
How Murray Will Advance
Berdych brings the talent to return Murray's offense with great power. He's also a much better player on clay than given credit for.
Preventing Berdych from getting in consistent position starts with the serve. For as obvious as that sounds, Murray's marksmanship must continue to score reliably well.
If anything, getting Berdych moving will minimize the strength he puts behind each return. Given the lack of speed on clay, Murray does himself a favor by serving for placement as opposed to velocity.
And when you factor his defense, Murray will then have a bit more time to get in proper position. He must also take advantage of every break-point opportunity, because that area can be improved after his first two outings.
How Berdych Will Advance
For one, Berdych is 2-0 against Murray on clay. The first match came in the 2010 French Open. There, Berdych won straight sets and ultimately reached the semifinals.
The second duel on clay was last season in Monaco. Murray squeaked out the first set, but dropped two and three for Berdych to advance. This embodies great significance, because it displays a mental upper-hand for Berdych on clay.
His ability to scoop up with groundstrokes, and put force behind it, will be able to get Murray on his heels. Include solid accuracy for long shots and Berdych is rarely taken out of position. Breakpoints are to his edge right now as well, since he has saved nine-of-12 in two matches.
When serving, though, Berydch must reduce double-faults as he had three in Round 2. On the bright side, he reached Madrid's finals last year by not dropping a set until facing Federer.
In short, the confidence exists to upset Murray and gain momentum for the 2013 Roland Garros.