Back in 2010, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer finished at the top of the ATP ranking list for the sixth straight year to extend their dominance over the rest of the field. It was an incredible season for the young Spaniard who claimed three Major crowns and all three Masters 1000 events on clay, standing above all the opponents and finishing the year more than 3000 points in front of Federer and 6000 ahead of Novak Djokovic.
After only two meetings in 2010, Roger and Rafa were on the course towards another title match in Doha at the beginning of 2011, entering the rich ATP 250 event in the opening days of January. The top seeds had the opportunity to experience something new before the main draw started, playing on a floating court in Doha Bay on Sunday, January 2, in the best possible move from the organizers to promote the tournament.
Of course, the court was low and that forced them to play volleys, changing a couple of shots and enjoying in a view towards Doha and its downtown. Once the serious action started, Federer was at the top of his game, defeating five rivals in straight sets despite some tense moments against the opponents from the top-100 to lift the title, while Rafael Nadal lost to Nikolay Davydenko on the last step before the potential Federer clash.
"It was a fantastic experience," said Nadal. "For the past three years, we have done a few different things and this one was a very nice experience. It's going to be a fascinating season for me, I think. I would love to play against Roger a few more times this year because when we play each other, it means we are both in the final."
"It was good fun; it was so different. You're always excited and nervous to see how it will turn out. It is always nice promoting an event and an entire tour with Rafa. I am, of course, very excited about the new season," said Federer.