Andy Murray cast past history against Rafael Nadal aside yesterday, claiming the Madrid Open title with a 6-3 6-2 victory in the final. The Brit had never previously beaten his Spanish nemesis on clay, but he changed all that with a master class in the Spanish capital. His clay court season could not have started better, with back to back titles after last week's victory at the Munich Open.

Expected victory for Nadal

Spanish fans may have expected their man Nadal to run out a comfortable winner in Madrid. He had seemed to be improving as the tournament progressed, advancing into the final without losing a single set.

At times against Tomas Berdych he had seemed back to his best. Surely a record fifth title in Madrid was there for the taking.

What was different about Murray?

Yet Murray had a different agenda in mind. To end a losing streak on any surface (Nadal led 6-0 on clay prior to their Madrid meeting) often requires a change of approach and mentality. Cutting out unforced errors was essential. Mixing up the play to unsettle his opponent's rhythm could also help his cause. A good luck charm often doesn't go amiss and the newly married man looked to have his wedding ring attached to his left shoe. Murray invoked all of those alternatives and the strategy worked like a dream.

Key moments in the match

The British player was quickly out of the blocks, dropping just two points to establish a 3-0 lead.

Nadal was not about to succumb meekly and responded to force break points on the Murray serve. Three of them came and went as the Scot stormed to the first set.

Nadal was not yet out of the contest but again lost his serve at the start of the second set. Murray continued with his aggressive approach, seeking to feed on Nadal's recent fragile confidence.

The Spaniard handed Murray a second break of serve to advance him into a 3-0 lead. That proved decisive and there was no way back for Nadal, as the Brit closed out the match in two sets.

An off day for Nadal

As good as Murray played, he also required assistance from the man at the other side of the net. Unable to cope with the varying height of the shots he often had to play, the Spaniard commonly mistimed his returns.

Murray for once fared better on his second serve, often seen as a perceived weakness. Against Nadal he speared it into the forehand wing and consequently his second serve win percentage rocketed up to 81%. By comparison, his usually formidable first serve was a 'modest' 68%.

Ramifications for Nadal

The loss again raises question marks about Nadal's chances of winning in France. More immediately, he will fall back to seventh in the world rankings, an indication of his recent decline.

Murray's chances at the French Open

Although clearly delighted with his current clay court form and with the manner in which he was able to overcome Nadal, Murray played down his own chances at the French.

He doesn't view himself among the favourites for the title, but clarified that thought by saying that "if I play like that I'll give myself an opportunity." Novak Djokovic will have other ideas. He skipped Madrid after claiming the previous Masters' titles on offer this year and is certain to be installed as the pre-tournament favourite.

All in all a good few weeks in the Murray camp, with Jonas Bjorkman clearly fitting in seamlessly. A pair of lederhosen for his win in Munich and now a commanding victory over the "King of Clay" in his own backyard. Gracias Madrid!