Andy Murray needed almost ten years on the Tour to claim the first clay-court ATP title in Munich 2015 following a thrilling victory over Philipp Kohlschreiber in over three hours. With no time to celebrate, Murray went to Madrid and beat Kohlschreiber again in the second round for a winning start.
The Briton took down Marcel Granollers and Milos Raonic in the next matches to secure a place in the semi-final against the last year's Madrid finalist Kei Nishikori. It was their fifth meeting and the fourth victory for Andy, who toppled Kei 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 38 minutes for his first Masters 1000 final on the slowest surface.
Murray lost only 18 points in nine service games, fending off two out of three break chances and mounting the pressure on the other side. Andy secured four breaks from eight opportunities and sealed the deal in straight sets to arrange the clash against a two-time defending champion Rafael Nadal.
Murray had 24 winners and 18 unforced errors, forging a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes which had the lion's share in his victory. Nishikori had the upper hand in the more advanced exchanges, which was not enough to keep him involved or secure at least a set.
The Japanese fended off a break chance in the encounter's third game and landed a return winner at 3-2 for the first break opportunity. Andy saved it with a powerful backhand down the line and closed the game with another excellent backhand to lock the result at 3-3.
Andy Murray beat Kei Nishikori in the 2015 Madrid semi-final.
Murray drew first blood in the seventh game after a deep return. He clinched a break and cemented the advantage with a smash winner that sent him 5-3 in front.
Kei lost the ground in those moments, spraying a forehand error in game nine to give serve away and hand the opener to the Briton after 45 minutes. Ready to fight until the end, Nishikori grabbed a break at 1-1 in set number two.
He stayed in front only for a couple of minutes, as Andy pulled it back straight away following a loose forehand from the Japanese. After three commanding holds on both sides, Nishikori erased a break chance to remain on the positive side and lock the result at 4-4.
Murray landed three winners to bring the ninth game home at love and grabbed four straight points on the return in the next one to seal the deal and achieve his best result at the Masters 1000 events on clay.