Madrid Flashback: Roger Federer arranges Rafael Nadal clash

Roger Federer fired 46 winners against Juan Martin del Potro in Madrid 2009

by Jovica Ilic
Madrid Flashback: Roger Federer arranges Rafael Nadal clash

Roger Federer joined Rafael Nadal in the title clash at the 2009 Madrid Masters, the first on clay in Caja Magica. Madrid joined the Masters 1000 caravan in 2002, settling into the late part of the season as the series' penultimate event.

It had been staged on the indoor hard court at Madrid Arena for seven years before changing the venue, surface and spot 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 world's best players in that first edition.

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer left in the semi-final stage, with fascinating encounters leading toward the first clay-court Madrid winner. Roger needed an hour and 21 minutes to dismiss the Argentine 6-3, 6-4.

Thus, he got a chance to play for his first season's title after 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.

He ousted del Potro 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 a few months earlier in Melbourne in a match that lasted a minute shorter than this one! Almost all the numbers were on Roger's side in Madrid, too, standing as the more efficient player on the first and second serve and dominating from the field.

The Swiss kept the points on his racquet and did not allow Juan Martin to fire up his forehand and move him away from his comfort zone. Also, Federer was a more creative player. He engineered 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 to think constantly about where the next point would land.

Del Potro had four break chances in the opening three return games. 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.

Roger Federer beat Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in Madrid 2009.

The Swiss stole 39% of the return points and broke the Argentine once in each set from six break chances to cross the finish line.

Federer had a 21-11 advantage in service winners. It allowed him to play aggressive tennis and blast 25 winners against del Potro's 12, creating another massive difference. Roger was reliable from wings and his volley, while Juan Martin could rely only on his forehand.

Federer had 46 winners against the Argentine's 23, a massive advantage before taking a look at the errors department. The Swiss wanted to keep the points on his racquet, which had to draw some errors. He sprayed 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. However, the young Argentine needed more to make an impact and earn a more favorable result. It was a swift and fluid match on a fast Madrid clay.

61% of the points ended in the shortest range with a maximum of four strokes, and Roger had a 40-33 advantage. They were neck and neck in the mid-range exchanges from five to eight shots (18-17 for Federer), and the Swiss prevailed 8-3 in the most extended points to complete his rock-solid performance and move into the title match against Rafael Nadal.

Roger Federer Rafael Nadal Juan Martin Del Potro