Madrid joined the Masters 1000 caravan in 2002, settling into the late part of the season as the penultimate event of the series. It had been staged on the indoor hard court at Madrid Arena for seven years before changing the venue, surface and place in the calendar in 2009, replacing Hamburg as the clay-court Masters 1000 tournament.
La Caja Magica at the Manzanares Park Tennis Center gathered the best players in the world in that first edition and we had Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer left in the semi-final stage, with very exciting encounters leading towards the first Madrid winner on clay.
Nadal beat Djokovic 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in four hours and three minutes of thrilling tennis while Roger Federer took down Juan Martin del Potro to set up the title clash with his nemesis. Roger needed an hour and 21 minutes to dismiss the Argentine 6-3, 6-4 and get a chance to play for his first title of the season after some tough defeats to Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray in Doha, Melbourne, Indian Wells, Miami, and Rome.
It was their fifth meeting and Roger was yet to drop a set against the promising youngster, ousting del Potro 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 a few months earlier in Melbourne in the match that lasted a minute shorter than this one in Madrid!
Almost all the numbers were on Roger's side, standing as the more efficient player on both the first and second serve and dominating from the field as well, keeping the points on his racquet and not allowing Juan Martin to fire up his forehand and move him away from the comfort zone.
Also, Federer was more creative player on the court, engineering points nicely in a mixture of well-placed serves, attacks, drop shots and net covering, taking the rhythm out of rival's strokes and forcing him always to think where the next point would land.
Del Potro had four break chances in the opening three return games but once he wasted them it was all over for him, as Roger sailed through the remaining service games to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. The Swiss stole 39% of the return points and broke Juan Martin once in each set from six break chances he earned in total.
Federer had a 21-11 advantage in service winners and that allowed him to play aggressive tennis from the court, blasting 25 winners against 12 from del Potro to create another massive difference. Roger was reliable from both wings and also with his volley, while Juan Martin could mainly rely on his forehand.
Overall, Federer had 46 winners against 23 from the Argentine, a massive advantage before we take a look at the errors department. The Swiss wanted to keep the points on his racquet and that had to draw some errors, spraying 19 unforced mistakes while del Potro stayed on more reduced 11.
Also, Roger had ten forced errors while making Juan Martin hit seven (mostly from his backhand), not enough for the 20-year-old to make an impact and earn a more favorable result. It was a swift and fluid match on a fast Madrid clay and 61% of the points ended in the shortest range with a maximum number of four strokes, with Roger having a 40-33 advantage in them.
They were neck and neck in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight shots (18-17 for Federer) and the Swiss also prevailed in the longest points 8-3 to complete his rock-solid performance and move into the title match.