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MADRID (AP) Andy Murray beat Rafael Nadal on clay for the first time Sunday, dominating the Madrid Open final to win 6-3, 6-2 against the four-time champion.

It was Murray's first Masters title on clay, a week after his maiden career tournament victory on the red surface at the Munich Open.

Murray dictated most of the long rallies, which lasted up to 24 strokes, displaying a level of confidence that has often been lacking for the Briton on clay.

He broke twice to take a 4-0 lead in the second set and clinched the win when Nadal sent a forehand return into the net.

''For me it was obviously a very tough match, you know winning against Rafa on clay is extremely difficult, one of the hardest things in tennis,'' Murray said. ''From my side it was a very good performance. I'm sure Rafa feels he could have played much better. But from my side, I couldn't have done much more.''

It was Nadal's fourth loss on clay this year, raising questions about his ability to win a 10th French Open title this year. Still, his play this week was an improvement compared to the Barcelona Open last month, when he lost to Fabio Fognini in the third round.

''This wasn't the game I wanted to play, but I tried to the very end,'' Nadal said. ''Still, it was a very important and positive week for me, I recovered sensations that I hadn't felt in a long time.''

The trophy was presented by Spanish tennis great Manuel Santana, who celebrated his 77th birthday Sunday.

Murray remained undefeated since he married his long-time girlfriend Kim Sears at Dunblane Castle in Scotland last month. When signing his name on a glass sheet in front of one of the cameras after the match, the 27-year-old Murray added: ''Marriage works!''

''Obviously the tennis has gone well (since the wedding),'' Murray said. ''You're happy and that helps your performances on the court.''

Murray, who has been free from the back pain that troubled him in previous seasons, moved well throughout the match and forced Nadal to cover a lot of ground in the rallies.

He took a 4-1 lead in the first set, then saved two break points at 4-2 as Nadal tried to force his way back into the match. The Spaniard kept making uncharacteristic errors, and lost the first set when he sent a backhand long.

Nadal saved a break point in the first game of the second set with a perfect half-volley drop shot after a long rally, but then netted another backhand to give Murray the game. The Briton never gave Nadal a chance after that, putting in the kind of performance that will raise expectations going into the French Open.

''I've pushed Rafa on the clay a few times,'' Murray said. ''This (win) obviously gives me confidence.''

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 /by 

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"People were saying, 'Oh, you should retire and stuff.' Nobody can decide it but me," she said. (AP Photo)

Two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova says that although she hasn't won a Premier-level tournament since 2009 (China Open), she always believed that would have more chances at a big title. After upsetting Maria Sharapova in the semifinals in Madrid, the 29-year-old Russian lost to Petra Kvitova in the final.  

Kuznetsova said that over the years, many people have criticized her for her erratic play. “I saw many people doubting me, but I didn't have doubts that I'm able to do that,” Kuznetsova said. “After I won [the 2004] US Open people were doubting me that I can win another Slam. After I won [the 2009 French Open], people were saying, 'Oh, you should retire and stuff.' Nobody can decide it but me. I love the game. I work hard. The people who talk that, they have no idea.

"Also, then I look to Roger [Federer] and people say he should retire. These people have no idea what they're talking about. There is lots of opinions. We don't have to look at the opinions of that people. The people were saying that Roger would never win French (he won it in 2009), and I can go on and on what people say. After the players show opposite, so I don't care what they say.”

Kuznetsova will rise to No. 18 in the WTA rankings after winning five matches in Madrid, including victories over Ekaterina Makarova and Maria Sharapova. “I didn't doubt myself and I was fighting hard and I was playing,” she said. “It's small difference. Like this tournament, maybe I could have lost to [Sam] Stosur or [Garbine] Muguruza or [Lucie] Safarova. She was match points up. So it's tiny change from being somewhere to nowhere. These changes, I beat [Angelique] Kerber in Miami that year and Kerber won Charleston and Stuttgart. It's crazy, but this is a game. Every day you have new opportunity and each week can change you something.”

Last week, Kuznetsova lost in the first round of Prague, a relatively minor tournament compared to Madrid. “I woke up yesterday after my nap and I was like, 'Is it for real? Am I in the finals?” she said. “Because I haven't been here for a long time, and I feel like I can do this and I belong here. When I see like I be losing and I have no opportunities I would maybe stop. As long as I enjoy and I can bring on the court great game, why not play.”

SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2015 /by 

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Milos Raonic will undergo surgery to repair a nerve in his right foot. (AP Photo)

Roger Federer appears set to play this week's Rome Masters following his second-round exit in Madrid, while Milos RaonicFernando VerdascoGael Monfils, and Vasek Pospisilare among those who have withdrawn from the tournament.

Federer is still in the draw as the second seed and was said to have confirmed his participation. He had previously said he would decide whether to play depending on how his previous tournaments went; his opening-round loss in Madrid suggests that he’d like additional matches before Roland Garros.

Both Canadians Raonic and Pospisil are not playing because of foot problems, with Pospisil experiencing an ankle injury during his doubles match with Jack Sock as both players went for a ball. Sock is playing doubles with Nick Krygios in Rome.

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The Dane had some of her best performances on clay under the former French Open champion's guidance. (AP Photo).

Caroline Wozniacki will no longer work with Arantxa Sanchez Vicario this season despite a successful run on clay, which has traditionally been her weakest surface.

Wozniacki began working with the former No. 1 and French Open champion after Miami. She reached the final of Stuttgart and quarterfinals of Madrid, where she fell in three sets to two-time French Open champion Maria Sharapova.

However, Wozniacki spokesperson Mikkel Nissen told BT Sport, "The working together is on pause. They worked together in the spring for a couple of weeks. But Sanchez has backed out of the agreement because she couldn't get traveling to tournaments and her family life to fit together."

"They're still in constant contact with each other," he added, and said that they planned to talk again in the offseason. "The hope is that a more permanent working relationship will start from the beginning of next year."

Wozniacki, who has been through several coaches in recent years, will keep working with her father Piotr as coach.

Sunday, May 10, 2015 /by
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The Czech didn't play any tournaments in the month of March, but went on to win Madrid. (AP Photo)

Petra Kvitova, who won the Madrid Open title, said she needed to rest mentally the month of March, when she didn’t play any tournaments, but that it was difficult to do and it took some time to rediscover her game.

“The time off wasn't really nice,” said the two-time champion, who upset Serena Williams in semifinals. “I'm just glad to be back and play good tennis. If I look back in this week or the week before when I play Stuttgart, it was terrible. The first match [at Madrid] and the second which I won in three-setters was really tough and big fight from myself. So that was important, to get the first and second win. Then I felt a little bit better and a little bit more comfortable on the court.”

Sunday, May 10, 2015 /by
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