Rafael Nadal has once again defeated former world number one Roger Federer in Madrid, beating the Swiss Maestro 5-7, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal, with the home crowd behind him in Madrid, will now face Novak Djokovic in the final and attempt to halt his endless progress.
The match started on a sad note, Rafa wiping a tear or two from his eyes, after a minutes silence to commemorate the life of Spanish golfing legend Seve Ballesteros. Seve died early in the morning on the day of the semi final after battling a brain tumor for some time. The emotional world number one said, “It’s a terrible day for Spain and the world. We lost a great champion, probably the greatest in the history of Spain.”
“This morning the first thing I did was to turn on TV, and the first thing I saw was that he had died. It’s a day of sadness — when you wake up with news like that you face your day differently. It is a loss that we’ll never get back due to all the values that Seve had. But luckily we have all of his videos and also we can remember him.
Luckily one day I had the chance of playing 18 holes with him and it’s an unforgettable memory.”
It wasn’t a good start for Federer who was broken in the opening game of the first set, Nadal held on to the lead to the Spanish crowds delight until 4-2. After 44 minutes Federer leveled at 4-4 before serving for a 5-4 lead, heaping the pressure back on Nadal. In the 11th game Nadal had triple break point but Federer lifted his game and the opportunity went to waste, Federer taking the first set after over an hour.
Federer took the first serve percentage was a mere 45% while Rafa’s was a high 85% but ultimately it was Federer who ripped the set out of Nadal’s hands.
Nadal, with a black ribbon pinned to his chest was given an early over rule that irked Federer and disrupted his rhythm and quickly the second set started as the first had – with a break. To the umpire he said “You don’t see it good. You think he’s right! You think he (the linesman) has a clue?” Hawk eye agreed with the umpire.
An irritated and sore Federer quickly found himself behind a double break at 0-3.
Rafa appeared at times to be sneering in irritation in a way he does when a call goes against him that he disagrees with (Think World Tour Finals 2010 v Murray). The problem was that was a bad sign for Federer – when Rafa gets annoyed, at himself or something else, look out.
Nadal charged and took the first set 6-1.
In the third set Nadal quickly found his way to a 4-1 lead. From there it was business as usual for the crowd favourite as he finished the match comfortably and booked his place in a final against Djokovic to try and stop the Serbian usurping him in the rankings and to try and defend his title from last year.
“I don’t think it was our best match for either of us, I think we both made some errors, more than usual. The difference between the good players and the best ones is that when you play badly you win; that is what the best players do. I think that at moments Roger played very aggressive and great tennis and in other moments he had more mistakes than usual. So the match was a little bit up and down, but for sure it’s always a special match against each other. It’s a pleasure to play against him – always an honour.
For me to start the clay season with two victories and now a final in the third tournament, which may be less favorable for me, is a very good result. I have to make the extra effort and tomorrow will be an important match. The fact that I am playing at home is special and well its another final at an Masters 1000 and I will fight until the end.
I’ve got the illusion of winning, of playing a good game, the illusion of being competitive, as I always do when I go out to win a match. I’m very much aware that in the last two finals against him I lost and maybe the conditions suit him a bit more now because of that. Here I think the conditions here are a bit more in his favour. I plan to accept this and all the difficulties that will surely be there and accept that this is going to be a very complicated match that I could lose even playing well.” – Rafael Nadal
“I thought Rafa played well and me too at times so it was a good match. It was it a good first set and even the second set at 6-1 doesn’t tell the truth and the third as well. I felt it was very close. Maybe the result doesn’t show as much but I thought I was right here.
I think overall I played okay, I played the right way and at times it all worked and sometimes it didn’t just because of Rafa’s high level of play. He plays from start to finish on clay really solid and that was to be expected.” – Roger Federer
“It’s a sad day in general for Spain, for the world of sport. He was one of the best athletes that this country has ever had — he was a pioneer. This win is much too small to dedicate to Seve —he’s one of the greatest players in the history of our sport.” – Rafal Nadal