Madrid: Andy Murray continued his remarkable run on clay when he pulled off a stunning upset to dethrone home favourite Rafa Nadal 6-3 6-2 in the Madrid Masters final on Sunday and claim his second title on the surface in a week.
Following up his debut triumph on the red dust on Monday in Munich, Murray denied Nadal a third straight triumph in the Spanish capital -- and record fifth overall -- and raised fresh doubts over the Spaniard's form heading into the French Open.
The Briton's strong performances this week suggest he may be a real contender in Paris, when holder Nadal, who has struggled for consistency since returning from injury and illness, will be bidding for a record-extending 10th Roland Garros crown.
"To play Rafa in Spain is extremely tough and this is the reason why we play tennis for these matches," Murray said after receiving the trophy from Spain's Queen Sofia.
"It's one of the toughest things in tennis to try to beat Rafa on clay," added the 27-year-old.
"I'll keep trying to play well over the next few weeks with Roland Garros just around the corner."
Murray had never beaten third-seeded Nadal on clay in six attempts but raced into a 3-0 lead at the futuristic magic box arena and fended off three break points to close out the set.
The world number three broke Nadal twice more to open a 4-0 lead in the second and finished him off on his first match point when the Mallorcan sent a weak forehand return into the net.
Nadal, 28, congratulated Murray for a "great season" and said he would try to keep working back to top form at this week's Rome Masters before heading to the French capital.
"Obviously, this wasn't the match I wanted or expected to play today," Nadal said.
"Although it's not nice to end it like this, it has been a very important week for me, very positive, in which I rediscovered sensations I had not had on a tennis court for a long time," he added.
It was Murray's 10th Masters crown and 33rd career title, while Nadal missed out on a record-extending 28th Masters and 66th title overall.
Nadal needed a win to stay fourth in the world rankings and he will drop to seven when they are updated, putting him outside the top five for the first time in a decade.
Marriage helps Murray to Madrid triumph:
Andy Murray attributed his stunning victory over Rafa Nadal in the Madrid Masters final on Sunday not only to the work of his team but also to a happy private life following his recent marriage to Kim Sears.
"People don’t always appreciate that there is another part of our lives that is very important as well," Murray told a news conference after clinching his 10th Masters crown.
"If you’re happy away from the court, if your private life and your personal life is good, that will help everything," added the 27-year-old, who spent some time honing his clay skills in Barcelona before the Munich event.
"Obviously, for me that’s very good right now ... but you still need to put in the hard work as well, which I did in Barcelona and Munich, and I’ve been rewarded for that."
Murray's emergence as a genuine force on clay follows years of struggles on the surface, when he was unable to cope with the demands that sliding around the court placed on his body.
He said he had put in a lot of hard work with his advisers, including French coach Amelie Mauresmo, to try to turn things around.
"I have been healthy this year and that’s a big thanks to all of my team, Amelie too, but also my physical team for putting in a lot of hard work and making some pretty drastic changes to the way I have trained," Murray said.
"I’ve tried to understand my body better so I could stay healthy, especially on this surface which I hadn’t done the last two or three years.
"Obviously, Amelie has been influential in that but also the rest of my team as well for being brave enough to actually make changes and I feel a lot better because of it."