2009 Madrid SF: Nadal defeats Djokovic 3-6 7-6(5) 7-6(9)

This match is without a doubt the best ATP match played in 2009.

Nadal had a tremenduous start of the year with wins at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Monte Carlo and Rome. He seemed unbeatable on clay and was the clear favorite to win a record fifth consecutive Roland Garros title. But things didn’t really turned out that well for him.

With a win in Madrid, the Mallorcan would have been the first player in history to win the 3 Masters tournaments played on clay the same year.

Nadal and Djokovic met for the fourth time of the season in Madrid semi finals, Nadal having won their 3 previous meetings (Davis Cup and finals of Monte Carlo and Rome).

Rafael Nadal

Djokovic had an early break to lead 3-0 and took the first set 6-3. Nadal then saved 4 break points in the second set to stay in the match and even at one set all.
Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead in the third set but Nadal broke back immediately and the set went on serve till the tie-break.
Both players gave their absolute all, hitting aggressively from the baseline. Nadal saved 3 match points at 5-6, 6-7 and 8-9 before stealing the win after 4hours of play.

Davis Cup atmosphere in Madrid during this match:


Rafa applauding a stunned Djokovic:

Rafael Nadal
Novak Djokovic

More screenshots of this match on my Flickr account.

The next day, Federer beat an exhausted Nadal in final 6-4 6-4. It was just Rafa’s second loss in 27 clay court finals.

This epic battle really was the turning point of the 2009 season. And Federer appeared as the real winner of this match.
For Nadal it was the tournament he shouldn’t have played: bothered by knee tendinitis and personal problems, Nadal lost for the first time in Roland Garros and missed Wimbledon.
He reached the semies in NYC but didn’t win any other title that year. He lost 4 matchs in a row for the first time since 2004, but he kinda redeemed himself by leading Spain to a fourth Davis Cup triumph.

For Djokovic, it was a devastating defeat: “I played one of my best matches ever. I even played a few points above my limits, and I still didn’t win.”
Following his successful clay campaign, the Serb came into Roland Garros as the second favorite behind Nadal. But he was crashed by Philip Kohlschreiber in the third round
in straight sets. He lost to another German, Tommy Haas, in the quarter finals of Wimbledon.

And Federer? Well, he captured his first RG and his record 15th GS title in Wimbledon after a 5set thriller against Andy Roddick.

– the Madrid Open replaced the Hamburg Masters in the calendar and was played from the first time on clay in 2009
– the tourament is played at “La Caja Mágica”, a new tennis complex in Madrid designed by French architect Dominique Perrault
– despite negative reactions by Nadal and Federer, Madrid organizers are looking at having blue clay courts in the future to better coordinate with the colors of their main sponsor

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