Rafael Nadal and Tommy Robredo met seven times, with the younger Spaniard winning all seven matches for a perfect score against his compatriot. Their first clash came in the 2005 Bastad semi-final, and home fans had the opportunity to see them in the third round in Madrid three months later.
Battling knee tendonitis in recent weeks, Nadal was not sure of his level at Madrid, although he was willing to give 120% of it to the home crowd. In the second round, Nadal defeated Victor Hanescu and took a momentum before the Robredo clash.
The youngest Spaniard earned a 6-2, 6-4 victory in one hour and 19 minutes for his 15th quarter-final of the season in 21 tournaments! Nadal lost 15 points in nine service games and lost serve early in the second set before regaining it.
He stole Robredo's serve four times, twice in each set to control the score and advance to the knockout stages against Radek Stepanek. With no knee pain, Nadal pushed hard from start to finish to secure the 76th win of the season and stay on course for the title.
Rafa praised the local fans and the fact of always being behind him, despite facing a Spanish teammate. Speaking of that second set, Nadal explained that he kept calm in the second set and withdrew the break, which gave him confidence in the later stages.
"I am happy with my service now, although I did not have much time to work on it this year. I am aware that I still have to improve my service and I feel more confident about it. I played better than Robredo, producing consistent tennis without too many mistakes.
I was calm in the second set, making a late break and sealing the deal with my serve in game ten. Tommy and I have played many times and I know his game well."
Bhupathi on Rafael Nadal
Mahesh Bhupathi waxed lyrical about Rafael Nadal, heaping praise on the Spaniard's humility.
He pointed out how Nadal's off-court demeanor is a polar opposite to his fiercely competitive self on the court. "Rafa is probably the most humble and down-to-earth champion I have ever interacted with," Bhupathi said.
"The respect and courtesy he shows everyone off the court doesn’t reflect the warrior-like killer instinct he shows on it." The 47-year-old believes the Big 3 has given tennis its best era, and reiterated that he considers himself fortunate to have witnessed the trio at their best.
"Roger Federer ( Will not Play Tokyo Olympics ) Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have continued to push the bar to dizzying heights and in the process have given us the Golden Age of men’s tennis," the Indian continued. "I for one have had a front row seat during this amazing time."