After a tumultuous and testy week of tennis on the virgin blue clay, power players Roger Federer and Tomas Berdych have arrived in the final of the Madrid Tennis Masters. Both Top 10ers took advantage of the controversial quick courts to all but dominate the field thus far with their aggressive games. But someone is going to lose as we determine who’s the greatest on the blue clay.
Earlier today, Berdych pulled off a minor upset ousting the red-hot Juan Martin Del Potro in two tiebreakers. Del Potro, who had won 10 straight and 22 sets in a row coming into the match, allowed line calls in each tiebreak to ruin his day. The Argentine wasn’t even convinced after the chair ump inspected the marks and confirmed both calls (they were also confirmed by the inactive shotspot). But Delpo wouldn’t let it go and it help cost him the match.
“The match was really long, really close,” said Del Potro. “I think that we won the same amount of points. But this is tennis and one of the two has to lose and he played the tie-breaks better than me. Those were the key points. The feeling is not the best because I lost. But he earned a lot of merit in the tie-break to win and he won fairly.”
Berdych, who had lost three straight to Delpo, squandered a break lead in the second but held it together in the breaker to get the win.
“I am definitely very happy with the game I played here since the beginning of the week,” said Berdych. “It doesn’t matter that much if you drop a set or not, it’s just how it is. Sometimes you can fight through the whole tournament and then get to the final as well.
“I definitely felt that [del Potro] was going to be the toughest one so far in the tournament, that was for sure. As I started I already had the feeling that he is going to be right and that it was going to be a tough game. I was confident to go for the match; I believed in myself and that I could do it.”
In the second semifinal, in windy conditions Federer breezed by Janko Tipsarevic 6-2, 6-3. The match wasn’t even that close against the Serb who had upset his countryman and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic a day earlier.
Federer kept Janko on the run playing first-strike tennis and it paid off. Since losing his opening set to Milos Raonic, Federer has reeled off eight straight sets on the blue smurf turf.
The win also catapulted Federer past the $70 million mark in career prize money.
As for tomorrow, Federer may lead the head-to-head against Berdych 10-4 (5-0 in sets on clay) but Tomas has won three of the last five. And the surface does help the big Czech who’s playing awfully well.
But I like Federer here. Not only is the (temporary?) No. 2 ranking at stake but with Nadal and Djokovic watching on the tube from Rome, it’s too good an opportunity to pass up for a guy whose real goal is to get back to No. 1. If Roger wants to get back to that top spot he’s got to cash this chip in.
“(Berdych) got me in big matches in my career in Wimbledon and at the Olympics. I got him back at the same places,” Federer said to the AP. “Still I remember those losses vividly. I think that we match up pretty well against each other because of the shot-making.”
Berdych, though, is more than capable of pulling the upset. He has the first strike ability so crucial to doing well on this slick surface. And he hits flatter, so that’ll take time away from Roger’s defenses. But I think Federer, 44-3 since the US Open, will blunt Berdych’s bombs and mix in just enough variety to get his 4th title of the year and 20th career Masters.
“It’s going to be a tough match,” said Federer. “Berdych is playing well himself. It’s quick conditions and he can be a big threat in the finals like that.”
The women’s finale is also a blockbuster with World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka against Serena Williams. Serena hasn’t lost on clay and Azarenka has been virtually unbeatable this season, so it should be a heck of a match. In the end, I think Azarenka somehow wins this one. She’s had her troubles with Serena who leads this series 6-1 but I think now as a No. 1 and a Grand Slam champion she’ll get that big win.
“She’s one of the best players in the world and one of the toughest opponents to play against,” Azarenka said of Williams. “We’ve played a lot of matches and I was young – I was just coming on the tour, but I was always competitive with her. So it’s going to be a different story. We had a very good match at the US Open last year, so I can take some positive things out of that one.”
Tennis Channel will have live coverage of the women’s final starting at 7:30am ET followed by the men.
SUNDAY MADRID FINALS SCHEDULE
MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
 R Lindstedt (SWE) / H Tecau (ROU) vs  M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP DOUBLES FINAL
Not Before 1:30 PM
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs  S Williams (USA) – WTA-SINGLES FINAL
Not Before 4:30 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP SINGLES FINAL
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