ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal downs Nikolay Davydenko on blue clay

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ThrowbackTimes Madrid: Rafael Nadal downs Nikolay Davydenko on blue clay

The Madrid Open switched to clay at Caja Magica in 2009, with Rafael Nadal standing as the player to beat in the opening three editions. Rafa lost two finals to Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer and claimed the title in 2010, hoping for a similar outcome in 2012.

Instead of regular clay, Ion Tiriac installed the blue clay, a surface never seen again in the world of tennis! The crowd favorite Nadal played his first match on the blue clay against Nikolay Davydenko in the second round, beating the Russian 6-2, 6-2 in 80 minutes, controlling the pace on both serve and return to oust a tricky rival and make a winning start.

Between 2009-2011, Davydenko defeated Nadal four times in a row before Rafa ended his downfall at Caja Magica, beating the Russian for the fifth time in their last official match. Nadal served at 70% and dropped ten points in eight service games, facing no break points and sending the pressure to the other side.

Davydenko couldn't match those numbers, losing 55% of the points behind the initial shot and suffering two breaks in each set to propel Rafa into the last 16. The Spaniard hit 19 winners and 12 unforced errors, controlling the pace nicely and making a promising start on the surface he didn't like.

Rafael Nadal made a strong start on the blue clay in Madrid 2012 vs. Davydenko.

The Russian hit a double fault in game three to experience a break before Nadal held at love for a 3-1 lead. Rafa placed a backhand crosscourt winner in the fifth game to secure another break and extend the advantage, feeling much better on the court than the rival who couldn't move in the way he wanted.

A forehand winner sent Rafa 5-1 in front, and he wasted two set points on the return in the next one. Serving for the set at 5-2, Nadal landed an ace down the T line for a hold at 15 and the opener in his bag. The Spaniard grabbed another break at the beginning of the second set and moved 2-0 up after a hold at 15.

From 30-0 down in game four, Rafa claimed four straight points and closed the game with a service winner for a 3-1 advantage. Nikolay fended off break chances in the next game to at least stay in touch before Rafa held at love with an ace to go 4-2 up.

Marching towards the finish line, Nadal broke at love in game seven and sealed the deal with a forehand winner a few minutes later.