The Scot was competing in his third final in four events, having captured his first ATP Masters Series crown at Cincinnati (d. Djokovic) and reached his maiden Grand Slam final at the US Open (d. Nadal; l. to Federer). He is already assured of his place at Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai for the first time, currently No. 4 in the ATP 2008 Race.
This week has also seen Simon build a strong case for his place at the season-ending finale. The 23-year-old Nice native came into Madrid at No. 12 in ATP 2008 Race. He will now move to No. 9 in the ATP 2008 Race, within six points of No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro, and become the No. 1 Frenchman.
Dunblane native Murray becomes the first British player to win two ATP Masters Series titles, as Tim Henman (2003 Paris) and Greg Rusedski (1998 Paris) both won one each. The right-hander is also the first player to win back-to-back titles at ATP Masters Series Cincinnati and Madrid (since 2002).
Murray now joins an exclusive list of players to have won at least two ATP Masters Series titles in a season over the past five years:
2008 -- Rafael Nadal 3, Novak Djokovic 2,
2007 -- Rafael Nadal 3, Novak Djokovic 2, Roger Federer 2, David Nalbandian 2
2006 -- Roger Federer 4, Rafael Nadal 2
2005 -- Roger Federer 4, Rafael Nadal 4
2004 -- Roger Federer 3, Marat Safin 2
It is the Scot's seventh overall ATP title and fourth of the season. Murray, who also triumphed at Doha (d. Wawrinka), Marseille (d. Ancic) and Cincinnati, becomes just the third player this season together with Juan Martin del Potro (4) and Rafael Nadal (8) to win four ATP titles. He is the first British player to win four titles in a season, eclipsing Mark Cox who captured three in 1975.
Not for the first time this week, Simon, who has played a decisive third set tie-break four times this event, made a slow start to the match. He surrendered his serve in the fifth game as a lob from Murray forced him out of position and the Scot capitalized with a strong backhand up the line to force the error.
Simon survived a break point against him early in the second set before settling into his rhythm and forcing the tie-break. He looked poised to take the match into a third set when he held two set points at 6-4, however he failed to convert both and Murray seized the initiative. The Scot hit a backhand return winner to earn a 7-6 lead and converted his first match point as Simon missed a tricky backhand volley after 1 hr., 35 min. Throughout the encounter Murray served 11 aces and did not face a single break point.
In the semifinals Murray had toppled Roger Federer, while Simon had edged out home favorite and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. The Neuchatel, Switzerland resident had saved six match points and spent a total of 11 hr., 47 min., on court en route to the final.
Simon, who dropped to a 45-23 match record on the season, was bidding for his fourth ATP title of the season, having claimed his first three at Casablanca (d. Benneteau), his first title on U.S. soil at Indianapolis (d. Tursunov) and last month at Bucharest (d. Moya).
WHAT THE PLAYER SAID
Murray: (on what he expected going into Madrid) "I didn’t expect to win the tournament. Like I said, I was playing really well in practice beforehand. The thing that’s difficult for me is that I played like one or two matches in five weeks. Although I was hitting the ball well in practice, its always different in the matches. Obviously, I started great and that gave me some confidence."
(on being established and comfortable as a member of the top four) "I´m still a long way behind them, I´ve played great the last few months, but those guys have been unbelievable for the last couple of years, so consistent on every surface and throughout the whole year, the points total that Djokovic has got for being the No. 3 player in the World is ridiculous. He would have by been by far No. 1 in the World at some stages. Those guys have been awesome and I´m still not close to them yet, I still need to keep working hard."
(on becoming first British player to win two ATP Masters Series titles) "Yeah there are a lot of things, today it was huge for me. Although Tim and Greg, have achieved a lot more than I have, over a long period in tennis, I´ve done something that neither of them were able to do. Tim was obviously a great player for eight, nine years, that’s how tough it is to win a Masters Series and the ones that I have won, its not like I´ve beaten bad players. I´ve beaten Federer and Novak in the ones in the last two that ive won and Djokovic in the one before that when I lost in the semis, so I´m having to beat really good players to do it consistently. It´s great to make a little bit of history."
Simon: (on chances to qualify for Tennis Masters Cup) "Yes, I am closer after this week. It won´t be easy because there are only one or two more tournaments left. I´m not sure if I will play in Lyon right now. Right now I just want to rest, I think two days. If there is only one tournament, you can´t make any mistakes, you have to win, you have to do better than the two guys before and that means to defeat a player like Federer or Nadal again, so it won´t be easy. I will do my best, I will try and if I play Shanghai it will be a good thing for me but it´s not the end of the world. Andy didn’t play the Masters Cup last year and he´s number 4 in the world right now."
(on his successful week and competing with top players) "I´m not scared when I play this kind of player because I know they are good, but I think that I am good too. I just know that it is going to be hard to win because they are not in the top 5 for nothing. They are great champions and it´s always hard to defeat this kind of player, but when I play them I am not scared because I think I have the ability to beat them on one day. It´s not like if it´s a 100% certain they will win. Even if its 70/30, there´s still a 30% chance that I can win so I try to play in that way."