Federer wins Madrid Masters title and reclaims world number two spot in the process
Amid all of the controversy surrounding the blue clay court surface at the Madrid Masters over the past week, you could be forgiven for forgetting that some high-quality matches were still taking place.
After the world’s top two, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, crashed out of the tournament both vented their frustrations, citing the court’s surface in their attacks.
The two have questioned their future participation in the competition, unless something is done to improve conditions.
Novak Djokovic caused further storm when stating that “the winner will be the one who doesn’t get hurt until the end of the week because a lot of players fell down,” whilst also taking time to criticise ATP chief Adam Helfant.
On the court, it was left to Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych to battle it out for the spoils, having discarded of Janko Tipsarević and Juan Martín Del Potro respectively in the semi finals.
Both players have been in blistering form, failing to drop a set between them in any of their matches on route to the final.
Federer, defeated in three of his past four matches with the Czech opponent, started on the back foot, unable to cope with the fierce ground strokes of Berdych. It didn’t take long for Berdych to wrap up the first set in confident manner, taking it by six games to three.
It was at this stage when we realised the determination that Federer still possesses to be successful on a surface that has tormented him throughout his career. A vast improvement in first serve percentage led to the former world number one taking the second set, breaking Berdych twice on his way to taking it 7-5.
At this point it looked like the Swiss would run away to a tournament victory with ease, gaining a 5-3 lead in the decider. However a string of unforced errors and some aggressive ground strokes from Berdych levelled things up at 5-5. With a tie break looking increasingly likely, it was Federer who ceased the initiative, holding serve before wrapping up victory at the fourth opportunity after Berdych netted.
After claiming the 20th Masters title of his illustrious career, Federer replaces Rafael Nadal as the number two in the world.
With the French Open now only a matter of weeks away, it is a huge confidence-boost for Federer who will have to be at his very best to beat the so called “king of clay” in Nadal, and the current world number one Djokovic.
Players will continue their preparations in Rome and Nice over the coming weeks, as they look to reach their peak performance in time for the clay at Roland Garros.