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

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Everyone expected a Federer-Nadal final. But lucky loser Guillermo Canas ended Federer’s 41 matchs unbeaten streak in the 2nd round, just 5 short of Guillermo Vilas’ record of 46 straight victories.
Canas defeated Federer again one week later in Miami and made it to the finals where he lost to… Djokovic.

After straight sets wins over Clément, Verdasco, Ferrero, Chela and Roddick, Nadal faced Djokovic in final.
It was the first final ever for Djokovic who captured his first title in Miami two weeks later after defeating Nadal in quarter finals.

Visibly nervous, Djokovic made a lot of unforced errors in the first set, winning just two points total the first four games. Nadal secured the opening set 6-2. Djokovic managed to shake off the nerves in the second set but Nadal broke his serve at 5-5 on his second chance and finished off the match in the next game.

Novak Djokovic

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Nadal had established himself as the King of Clay by winning his first French Open in 2005. Two weeks before this Rome final Federer had lost to Nadal at the Monte Carlo Masters series.
At the time, the Rafa-Fed rivalry was just peaking, and some tennis analysts like Carillo thought Nadal would just be another clay court specialist like Bruguera or Kuerten (how wrong she was…)

<After 5 hours of play and two match points saved, the Spaniard emerged as the winner. He equalled Vilas record of 53 consecutive wins on clay and also improved to 5-1 against the world No 1.

Rafael Nadal

Is it me or the Swiss Maestro always looks grumpy when he plays against Nadal?

Roger Federer

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Nadal-Federer rivalry

One of the greatest (if not the greatest) all time tennis rivalry. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal provide us some spectacular, intense and emotional tennis each time they play. Everyone remember their epic 2008 Wimbledon final of course.
What’s your favorite Nadal-Federer match?

You can click the column to sort the table:

No. Year Tournament Surface Round Winner Score R. F. R. N.
1. 2004 Masters Series Miami Hard R32 Nadal 6–3, 6–3 0 1
2. 2005 Masters Series Miami Hard Final Federer 2–6, 6–7(4), 7–6(5), 6–3, 6–1 1 1
3. 2005 French Open Clay Semi-final Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–4, 6–3 1 2
4. 2006 Dubai Hard Final Nadal 2–6, 6–4, 6–4 1 3
5. 2006 Masters Series Monte Carlo Clay Final Nadal 6–2, 6–7(2), 6–3, 7–6(5) 1 4
6. 2006 Masters Series Rome Clay Final Nadal 6–7(0), 7–6(5), 6–4, 2–6, 7–6(5) 1 5
7. 2006 French Open Clay Final Nadal 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4) 1 6
8. 2006 Wimbledon Grass Final Federer 6–0, 7–6(5), 6–7(2), 6–3 2 6
9. 2006 Tennis Masters Cup Hard Semi-final Federer 6–4, 7–5 3 6
10. 2007 Masters Series Monte Carlo, Monaco Clay Final Nadal 6–4, 6–4 3 7
11. 2007 Masters Series Hamburg Clay Final Federer 2–6, 6–2, 6–0 4 7
12. 2007 French Open Clay Final Nadal 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4 4 8
13. 2007 Wimbledon, London, England Grass Final Federer 7–6(7), 4–6, 7–6(3), 2–6, 6–2 5 8
14. 2007 Tennis Masters Cup Hard Semi-final Federer 6–4, 6–1 6 8
15. 2008 Masters Series Monte Carlo Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 7–5 6 9
16. 2008 Masters Series Hamburg Clay Final Nadal 7–5, 6–7(3), 6–3 6 10
17. 2008 French Open Clay Final Nadal 6–1, 6–3, 6–0 6 11
18. 2008 Wimbledon Grass Final Nadal 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7 6 12
19. 2009 Australian Open Hard Final Nadal 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(3), 3–6, 6–2 6 13
20. 2009 Madrid Masters Clay Final Federer 6–4, 6–4 7 13
21. 2010 Madrid Masters Clay Final Nadal 6–4, 7–6(5) 7 14
22. 2010 London Hard Final Federer 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 8 14
23. 2011 Miami Hard SF Nadal 6-3, 6-2 8 15
24. 2011 Madrid Clay SF Nadal 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 8 16
25. 2011 French Open Clay F Nadal 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1 8 17

5 years ago, many tennis insiders thought Nadal and Gasquet would fight for Grand Slam titles and the number one ranking.

Since his young age Richard Gasquet was touted as an extremely promising prospect.
At 9, he was on the cover of the french Tennis Magazine. At 15, he made his debut on the ATP Tour in Monte Carlo, and was seen as a future Grand Slam contender.
At 18, he beat world number one Roger Federer and earned the nickname “Baby Federer”. But over the ensuing years, it became more and more obvious that Gasquet would never live to the expectations.
And at 23, he faced a drug ban.

What about Nadal, his rival from junior days? 6 Grand Slam titles, 18 Masters Series, 3 Davis Cup. Enough said.

When Gasquet and Nadal met in semifinals in 2005, the French had caused a major upset, defeating Roger Federer 6-7 6-2 7-6 the previous round.
Big opposition of style between Gasquet the shot maker and Nadal the grinder. The latter would prevail after 3 tight sets.

Richard Gasquet

Rafael Nadal

Eric Deblicker (left), Gasquet’s coach from 2004 to 2008:

Eric Deblicker

The next day, Nadal would capture his first Masters Series title with a 4 sets win over defending champion Guillermo Coria.

One month later Nadal and Gasquet would meet again, in the third round of Roland Garros. An easy 6-4 6-3 6-2 win for Nadal. On his 19th birthday, Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 French Open semifinals and two days later, he defeated Mariano Puerta in the final.

Richard Gasquet is a really gifted player, with one of the most beautiful and efficient backhand of the ATP Tour. BUT. Gasquet is a headcase and will probably join Nalbandian, Rios and Safin on the “biggest underachievers” list.
What do you think? Do you think he can go back to top ten?

More:
– both Nadal and Federer won eleven singles titles and in 2005
– Nadal won the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year award in 2005
– with his win in 05′ RG, he became the second player to win a Grand Slam on his first attempt after Mats Wilander in 1982

Rafa by the numbers

6 Grand Slam titles, 3 Davis Cup, 1 Olympic gold medal, 18 Masters Series titles. At 24, the only trophy missing to his impressive collection is the US Open crown.

Some of Rafa’s records:
– 81 consecutive wins on clay
– 18 Masters Series titles
– 6 consecutive titles in a tournament (Monte Carlo)
– the only player to win 400 singles matches in fewer than 500 matches played
– the only player to win all 3 clay court Masters Series in the same season
and on and on

Here you can find the details of Rafa’s singles titles:

Grand Slam:
You can click on the column to sort by year, championship, surface…

Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
2005 French Open Clay Mariano Puerta 6–7(6), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5
2006 French Open (2) Clay Roger Federer 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4)
2007 French Open (3) Clay Roger Federer 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4
2008 French Open (4) Clay Roger Federer 6–1, 6–3, 6–0
2008 Wimbledon Grass Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7
2009 Australian Open Hard Roger Federer 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(3), 3–6, 6–2

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