Rafael Nadal started his 18th campaign at the Madrid Open on Wednesday against Carlos Alcaraz. The 20-time Major champion spoke about his favorite memories of the Madrid Open between his training sessions, mentioning that first edition at the Caja Mágica in 2009.
Rafa became world number one in August 2008 and had a huge boost at the start of the next season, winning the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome before heading to Madrid for the first Masters 1000 event.
in clay in your country. Nadal had lost just three games that year and had to work hard to avoid fourth in the Madrid semifinal, prevailing over Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in four hours and three minutes after saving three points from match.
It was Nadal's 19th consecutive victory on clay in 2009 (150-4 since 2005) and his 27th victory in 28 ATP semifinals on clay, beating the powerful opponent in one of the three longest sets in the past two decades. The Serbian was there to challenge Rafa in the three most important tournaments during the clay tour.
Nadal had beaten him in the Monte Carlo and Rome finals, and Novak was ready to give 120% of it and finally clinch a victory over the Spaniard on the slower surface. Djokovic earned five more points and played only two break opportunities in the entire clash, with eight break opportunities up for grabs and two return games on his account.
Novak had more winners and fewer errors, beating Rafa in the longest rallies, but fell short in the decisive tiebreaker to suffer one of the most heartbreaking losses of his career. During the course of the podcast, Andre Agassi answered questions about both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and what made the legendary duo so special.
Agassi first asserted that each top-ranked player of every generation has brought something unique to the sport, something that was never seen before.
Agassi comments on Rafael Nadal
"I mean then Rafael Nadal comes along and he brings such enormous spin to the game that it actually changes the rules of engagement," Andre Agassi said.
"So you have two things with Rafa that are clearly stand out to me - that he hits the ball and it's not in till it bounces right? So that changes positions in the court where you can play that offsets a lot of those other qualities I mentioned about Federer."
Andre Agassi also made it a point to mention Novak Djokovic - whom he coached for a brief period in 2018 - alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. "So you have him (Rafael Nadal) bringing that into it and then I know you only asked me about those two guys, but then Novak has his own sort of thing that he brings to the table," Agassi added.
"So when you look at these great players they always do something that nobody else does and that's what gives them the chance to sit at number one for a period of time."