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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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?

– 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

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