In Madrid, Rafa Rules

Madrid Open 2010
By Hiland Doolittle, May 17th, 2010
In Madrid Rafa Rules

In Madrid Rafa Rules

With Queen Sofia of Spain in the stadium and with a highly partisan Madrid crowd, Rafa Nadal proved his clay court dominance with a crisp win over the top seeded Swiss phenomenon Roger Federer. The spectacular rivalry between the two players continues with Rafa enjoying a 14 – 7 edge and a distinctive 9 – 2 clay court edge.

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The 6-4, 7-6 (5) win boosted the 23-year ahead of Andre Agassi with 18 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Championships. Nadal is the first player to champion the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open in the same year. His 28th clay court championship moves the lefthander into a tie for fifth place with Ivan Lendl and Ilie Nastase on the clay court leadership board. And, he is a mere 23 years old with plenty of tennis yet to play!

The win will make Rafael Nadal the number two ranked player in the world but a strong favorite to repeat on the red clay of Roland Garros in the French Open beginning next week.

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Federer was unable to defend his title but played well and showed the remarkable precision that characterizes his career. The evening play softened the court and diminished Federer’s biggest weapon, his serve. Although effective, it was not the dominant force Roger needs to defeat Nadal.

Still, Federer threw the book at Nadal. He hit deep forehands, crisp one-handed backhands and drop-dead drop shots. Nadal responded with remarkable retrieves and unparalleled put-aways.

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In the second set tiebreaker, Federer executed a perfect drop shot that surprised everyone in the stadium and left Nadal flat footed. The shot gave him a 4-3 edge in the crucial game. On the very next point, he unsuccessfully pressed the same attempt but the ball fell harmlessly to the net. From there on, Nadal asserted himself. At 4-6, the Swiss saved one set point but Rafa was not to be denied his second Madrid title.

The triumph lifted Nadal’s clay court tour final record to a remarkable 28 –2. Both losses came at the hands of Federer. The rivalry between the two is respectful but intense. The level of play between the two warriors is unsurpassed by any other tour players and eclipses rivalries of any other era.

In Paris, the fans must be hoping for the same match-up in the five set finals.


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