Magic Nadal downs Feds in Madrid
Originally published on: 17/05/10 07:43
The long anticipated re-match between the world’s top two players ended in defeat for the world No.1 as Rafael Nadal became the first man to win all three clay Masters 1000 events in the same year.
It was a tie that had been 12 months in the waiting, and after losing to Federer in straight sets in the Madrid final last year, Nadal made amends by claiming a record-breaking 18th ATP Masters 1000 title in the Spanish capital’s Magic Box arena.
“To be the first player to [win all three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments] is unbelievable,” said Nadal after adding to his victories in Monte Carlo and Rome with his 6-4 7-6(5) triumph.
“I would never have dreamed that I would be able to do so. I’m very happy to have won here and it is especially important to have won in Madrid.”
Nadal last took the Madrid title in 2005 (when the tournament was played indoors) but buried his face in the clay to celebrate clinching his first triumph on red dirt there and extend his winning margin over the reigning French Open champion to 14-7.
“Beating Roger is always a special occasion,” added the world No.2, whose incredible winning streak in Masters events defies his tender 23 years and 11 months.
“It’s always a very difficult match. And of course winning at home is very special against anyone. So beating him at home is amazing; it’s a dream for me. For me it’s a dream to have won the three [tournaments] before Roland Garros. I want to enjoy that now and we’ll see what happens in two weeks.”
If he wasn’t so before, the Spaniard is now the red-hot favourite to claim a fifth French Open crown.
On his part, Federer did have chances in the match as the pair traded early breaks in both sets, and the world No.1 found particular success with a host of deft drop shots that even the famously nippy Nadal had trouble getting a racket on.
But any lingering hope of winning only his third match against Rafa on clay ended on match point in the second set tie-break when Federer clean-missed the ball with a remarkable air shot.
“I have had many beautiful match points in my career but that was not one of them,” recounted the world No.1 afterwards.
“You have to expect bad bounces on clay, I decided to take a risk with the shot and I did not get the reward I wanted. The surface is actually better than last year which gives you some idea how it was then.
But though he went on to lament the test of the Spanish southpaw, Federer still believes he is ready to defend his French Open title in the coming weeks.
“It is not easy for me to play a leftie on clay, especially not someone like Rafa,” he said.
“[But] the clay court season will not be judged here but in Paris. We’ll see what happens in three weeks.”