Watch: Roger Federer Masters Controversial Blue Madrid Clay

Roger Federer prevailed over Tomas Berdych in the 2012 Madrid final

by Jovica Ilic
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Watch: Roger Federer Masters Controversial Blue Madrid Clay
© Jasper Juinen / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The 2012 Madrid Masters tournament was unlike any other, featuring a unique blue clay surface that stole the spotlight. Roger Federer emerged as the first and only champion on this controversial surface, which was introduced to enhance visibility for TV viewers and add a distinct identity to the event.

However, the players' reaction to the surface was far from positive right from the start. Despite its origins from the same earthen material as traditional clay, the blue clay underwent a transformation during the process. Iron oxide was removed to change its color from red to white, and blue pigment was added to achieve its distinctive coloring.

Yet, beyond its vibrant appearance, the surface posed significant challenges. Its slippery nature made movement on the court treacherous, with players struggling to find stability and agility.

Roger Federer, Madrid 2012© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Notable names like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal expressed their discomfort with the new surface, threatening to boycott future editions if it remained unchanged.

Ultimately, their voices were heard. A month later, ATP executive chairman and president Brad Drewett announced the discontinuation of blue clay, urging a return to the traditional red surface for the following year's tournament.

Amidst this gripping saga, one player stood alone as the victor on blue clay, with Roger Federer lifting his second and last Caja Magica trophy. The Swiss prevailed over Milos Raonic after a thriller in the second round before toppling Richard Gasquet, David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic with rock-solid performances.

Federer set the title clash versus Tomas Berdych and prevailed 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 after two hours and 38 minutes, lifting the trophy on a unique surface. Roger landed 13 aces and defended six out of nine break points on the fast, slippery surface.

Tomas grabbed the opener and pushed world no. 3 to the limits in sets two and three. The Czech played better behind the second serve. However, he faced 11 break points and got broken four times, including the 12th games of sets two and three.

Federer claimed two points more than Berdych, forcing more mistakes from his opponent after a similar number of winners. The Swiss forged a slim advantage in the shortest exchanges, and the Czech erased it in the more advanced ones, staying competitive until the final point.

Tomas made a reliable start, landing an ace in the first game of the encounter and clinching a break with a backhand crosscourt return winner in the next one for a 2-0 advantage. Berdych held at love in game three, cementing the break and settling into a fine rhythm.

The Czech kept the same pace in game five, firing four winners and moving 5-2 up with another comfortable hold in game seven.

Roger Federer, Madrid 2012© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Roger Federer lifted the 2012 Madrid Masters trophy on blue clay.

The Swiss struggled behind the initial shot in the eighth game, saving two set points with service winners and extending the battle.

Tomas served for the opener at 5-3 and landed a service winner, wrapping up the opener in 36 minutes and moving closer to a notable trophy. Roger stepped in on the return in the second game of the second set. He clinched his first break with a forehand winner and brought the next game home in under 70 seconds for a 3-0 lead, turning the tables.

Berdych prolonged the fifth game with a forehand winner and created a break chance. Federer denied it with an ace and closed the game with a forehand down the line winner for 4-1. The Czech had to work hard behind the initial shot in the sixth game from 40-0, saving a break point with an ace and closing the game with a volley winner, remaining within one break deficit.

Roger painted a forehand crosscourt winner in the seventh game, maintaining the lead and serving for the set at 5-3.

Tomas Berdych, Madrid 2012© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Tomas saved a set point with a powerful groundstroke, passing Roger at the net and pulling the break back after a great defense and a forehand down the line winner.

Berdych held at 30 in the tenth game, leveling the score at 5-5 and prolonging the battle. Federer fired four service winners in the 11th game and prepared another push on the return at 6-5. The Swiss painted a return winner for two set points and seized the first after a costly double fault from his opponent, stealing the set 7-5 and forcing a decider after an hour and 35 minutes.

Roger played against two break points at the beginning of the final set, defending them and closing the game with a forehand winner. Berdych made another push on the return in the third game, landing a forehand crosscourt winner for a break chance that could have sent him in front.

Federer kept his composure and fired three direct points, getting out of jail in style and holding for 2-1. Tomas held with a volley winner in the fourth game and created a mini chance on the return in the next one. Berdych fired a forehand winner for 30-0 and missed a routine forehand at 30-30, failing to create a break chance.

Tomas closed the sixth game with a service winner, remaining on the positive side. Roger fired up his forehand at 3-3 and clinched the game with a backhand winner, moving in front and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Berdych played against three break points in the eighth game and erased them with powerful serves. Still, the Czech faced the fourth and hit a double fault, sending the Swiss 5-3 in front. Roger served for the win in game nine and failed to cross the finish line!

Tomas Berdych & Roger Federer, Madrid 2012© Mike Hewitt / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Tomas landed a deep return on a break point and drew Roger's mistake, pulling the break back and extending a thrilling battle.

Berdych grabbed the tenth game with a service winner, locking the result at 5-5 and adding more drama. Federer painted a forehand crosscourt winner in the 11th game, forging another advantage and keeping the pressure on the other side.

Tomas fell 30-0 behind in the 12th game after a massive error at the net and faced three match points after failing to pick up a ball at the net. Berdych denied them and reached deuce before spraying a forehand error, offering Federer his fourth match point.

The Czech netted a routine forehand, falling after a massive battle and allowing the Swiss to become the first and only champion on blue clay!

Roger Federer Tomas Berdych
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