Can Roger Federer Beat Rafael Nadal Today in Madrid?
by Sean Randall | May 17th, 2009, 10:08 am

Short answer: No. Longer answer: No way.

There is a caveat, however. Roger Federer’s only chance will be if Nadal is not 100% healthy today in the Madrid Tennis Masters final. Nadal’s physical condition will be the focus following his nail-biting 3-set masterpiece yesterday over Novak Djokovic. During the win Nadal was having trouble wit his right knee. ADHEREL

But for me, I think Nadal will be more than ready, willing and able to take down his chief rival on his home soil in front of his Spanish fans. Would he really lose to Federer in Spain, on clay of all places? I don’t think so.

Nadal of course has had Federer’s number winning five straight meetings against Roger (Rafa leads 13-6 overall), many in such devastating fashion that the mighty Swiss was reduced to tears afterward.

I don’t think there will be any tears of pain today, only perhaps, tears of joy.

But in many ways, it’s another virtual “can’t win” situation for Federer. Much like his “asterisk” victory over Nadal at 2007 Hamburg, which ended the Spaniard’s 81-match win streak, the situation is somewhat similar today.

Should Federer win fans and critics will make the case that he earned victory only because Nadal was exhausted from Saturday. Or Nadal’s knee flared up and hindered his ability in the title bout. Perhaps it will be the case.

But that said, I think these days we are quick to give players an out. “Well, he played 4 hours yesterday, how can he possibly recover within 24 hours?” My answer, why not? If he’s knee is okay then Nadal should be fine. And if he is emotionally drained the Spanish fans should help get him back up.

For Federer though, this may very well be his best and perhaps last chance at a win over Rafa on clay. And Roger is playing well this week. Despite a hiccup against Roddick, Federer’s been playing some of his best tennis of the year and he’ll obviously need to continue that and serve well today against Rafa.

If you read the recent Sports Illustrated piece, much was made of Federer’s unwillingness to change tactics against Rafa. Well, if Roger can conjure up a new plan of attack against Rafa, maybe employ the drop shot more, run around the backhand and be aggressive on Rafa’s serve, then who knows.

But as we all saw yesterday, Nadal simply refuses to lose. It’s Nadal in straight sets.

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85 Comments for Can Roger Federer Beat Rafael Nadal Today in Madrid?

fed is afraid Says:

no way, rafa has taken up residence in rog’s empty head.

NachoF Says:

Prediction: Roger will lose 100% of his second serve points.

Kimmi Says:

Roger is lucky not to be broken, hits so close to the lines, but then maybe thats the way to play.

Robin Says:

Roger will win. Put yourself in Roger’s shoes. This is the right place, the right time, the right court to defeat Rafa. GO FEDERER!!! But don’t you worry, all you Rafa fans will have 2 kind of acceptable excuses like what ya’ll said: #1 his knees, #2 fatigue. Goodluck to your excuses. Congratulations Fed!

Matt Says:

Whos winning, espn won’t update

PietjeP Says:

Hmm, a break up in the second set. Still too early for cheering. Fed needs to avoid his implosion mode…

youyong Says:

Fed up a set and a break in 2nd set

Von Says:

Why is Nadal playing in the shade and so far back behind the baseline? I don’t understand why so many of the players like to hang so far back.

Von Says:

As I mentioned previously if Fed is to win on clay, it will be Madrid.

Kimmi Says:

C’mon federer. Please please please. You can do it.

Robin Says:

you’re right von, at the right time(Madrid Masters event) in the right place(Clay court).

NachoF Says:

“As I mentioned previously if Fed is to win on clay, it will be Madrid.”

When did you say that??… if you said it after the last clay tournament than it seems you were just trying to point out that Federer has no chance to win the FO and not that he has any specific good chance to win Madrid.

PietjeP Says:

Now let’s see if Fed can serve it out….

tennismonger Says:

Rafa made his statement, played his final yesterday. His is now in exo mode – no doubt his team told him prior to the match, “Go ahead & win if Fed is a quivering wreck, but otherwise take it easy, don’t hurt yourself more…” Team Rafa sees the big picture.

This win (assuming it happens) will be cold comfort for Fed, every bit as cold as the damp clay of Hamburg…

youyong Says:

Federer wins!

jane Says:

Congrats to Fed & fans. That was a good hold to close it out.

Mirka Federer Says:

This win (assuming it happens)

It has happenned. May the excuses begin.

Kimmi Says:

Yeah, yes. He is done it. Sooooo very happy for fed. Everybody even myself did not believe he could do that. I guess he believed it. Congratulations.

Ezorra Says:

Congratulations to Mr. Federer and all his fans. He played so great this week and the court suit him very well too… He totally deserves the trophy.

To all Nadal fans, don’t be sad and please don’t spoil their moment as well… Just give them the credit they deserve.

b.t.w Vamos RAFA!!

Joe Says:

Great prediction Sean. Kudos

No. no way. hmmmm

max Says:

fed shows who the real world number 1 is….hahaha

Tennisfan Says:

Oops … wrong again Sean! …ever seen the monkey that spins the wheel … he has a better track record!

… next up the French Open … meet the new King of Clay … his name Roger Federer!!

Cindy_Brady Says:

Federer is back. What a huge win!

I found one thing interesting. No hoop la or over excitement for the win. Federer wants to send a message that I’ve been here before and I’m not going anywhere. Very smart, indeed!

Darius Says:

Fantastic analysis and prediction. BUT FEDERER WON!! BWAHAHA!

Von Says:


Look at my post to Sam on that same thread. I also mentioned he was rested, and because of the altitude in Madrid he had the best opportunity.

Kimmi Says:

1st win for the season, and tying Nadal 15 or is it 14 MS wins.

Roger-Rafa Says:

It was straight sets, alright :) Nice yummy delicious crow for you Sean, right out of the MY-CROW-wave oven ;)

Fed saved all 4 breakpoints and converted all the chances he got.

Where is that bastard who calls himself bullies or says fed is afraid? suck on fed fans’ blank!

PietjeP Says:

Well, well… who expected that? I didn’t :)

But let’s not get carried away here. Nadal looked nowhere near himself today. Lot of UE’s.

Maybe he was a little fatigued… but that’s Rafa’s problem and not Roger’s. If that continues to be a problem for Rafa he needs to win matches quicker. A tournament lasts 5/7 matches, not just 1.

Although it maybe was a little because of Nadal’s match yesterday, I think Roger deployed some good tactics. He needs to play the match on his terms. Not Rafa’s.

For me his terms would be for him to win or lose the point. Mix it up around the court and not let Nadal get into any rythm. Even then Rafa is still favourite, but it would provide Fed with a chance. Still I don’t think he can win RG. Unless Nadal would get a crazy though draw.

Von Says:

And, Federer wins!! Congrats to him and his fans on his first title for the year.

youyong Says:

This win will probably mean more to Federer at this point in time. Nadal didn’t seem really motivated to give his all today. Looking forward now to the French Open. Let’s hope Djokovic is in Fed’s half. The dream FO final this year would be between Djokovic n Nadal.

scott Says:

This win for fed is huge it gives him the confidence to win the french and the belief again he WILL WIN WIMBLEDON.

josh Says:

federer won!

Leny Says:

Against all your predictions, our man won! I am sure that he will continue this run to Roland Garros without the mental block against his rival!

Von Says:

Nadal stated that he felt uncomfortable when hitting the ball. He was afraid to hit for fear of it going out, and I suppose it’s why he played so far behind the baseline. He said that Madrid was the most difficult tourney for him because of his fear. It makes sense to me considering he didn’t want to play there and the ball does fly.

Cindy_Brady Says:

Nadal did look a bit tired from the epic Djokovic match.

Still think the best two clay court players are Nadal and Djokovic.

Youyoung you are on the money here. Both Federer and Nadal do not want Djokovic on their side of the draw.

This year, the draw will be more important than ever.

fed is afraid Says:

big deal, he beat a tired and exhausted rafa. the real final was yesterday.

youyong Says:

I am a big Nadal fan but I was not optimistic of his chances today. Excuses aside, Federer played a consistent match today and I hope this will also get those who keep on putting him down to shut up!

Nonetheless, I still feel that Djokovic is a bigger threat on clay to Nadal.

fedexpress Says:

FEDERER haha the fedexpress is back on track lady’s and gentlemen, arriving at the french open and wimbledon coming month…rafa your finished…fedex your back!!

Glen Says:

“Nadal was bidding to become the first man to win all three claycourt Masters Series events in one year”

too bad.karma always comes back to bite you on the backside

youyong Says:

I am not so sure that Nadal’s being tired is a major factor. We have seen him play tiring matches before only to win the next day. Something was missing today in his play and it seemed more like it wasn’t really important for him to win this match? This is in line with tennismonger’s post above. Just my thoughts.

Kimmi Says:

Pietjet, RG is a big shot but it’s good for Federer to be able to sustain high level throughout the whole match. That has been his biggest problem this season. He was able to sustain high level against slightly lower ranked players but not top 3. It does not matter if nadal was fatigued or not – he did it. And to do it against Nadal of all the people, who has beaten him 6 straight time it will definely feel good.

Daniel Says:

Congrats to Fed, it was about time! I hope this boosts his performance in RG as Double golds last year did for his US Open!

Once again Fed stoped Nadal´s clay sweep. This shows that Nadal is beatable on clay! Even if tired mentally and physically, it’s not Fed´s fault, Nadal´s game that is too demanding on the body, eventually someone will push him and he will be exhausted in the next match. Not always things will come his way and he only will have easy matches, that´s why I don´t agree with this excuses that his losses in Hamburg 2007 and Rome 2008 doesn´t count, it counts, he as an athlete and should be ready to play every match, regardless!

He gave it all yesterday agaisnt Djoko and that cost him his chances in a final. Looks like he thought it was better lose to Fed today than Djok, seems he can stand losing to Djoko. He knew that after 4 gours no way he will be ready to play at “his level”, but that is the price he payed.

I feel sorry for Djoko, he should have a win over Rafa on clay already, but someone will have to push him first to soften him.

And other fact, todays match wasn´t even that hard on the body, Fed and Nadal missed a lot of returns and the points where shorten. To me seems like he was more mentally spent.

And kudos to Roger, for the first time he saved all breakpoints and hold his nerve, and finally he SERVED as he should against Rafa! Ah, and he choose to receive when he won the flip coin, maybe he should do this ever time from now on.

rodnadfan Says:

Hey Sean,
I knew you would say this all those SOBs who can’t help to avoid any prejudice against one of the best players of modern era. If Nadal losses, he was tired. I guess you should better go t Mallorca to cheer Nadal up instead of writing articles coz you can’t help being a such lopsided jerk.

youyong Says:

fedex – All credit to Fed for winning but I still think the one with the best chance to upset Nadal at FO is still Djokovic. As for Wimbledon, I think both Murray and Djokovic have good chance to reach the finals and possibly win.

Perfect Federer Takes Down Nadal in Madrid Final Says:

[…] Recent News… Can Roger Federer Beat Rafael Nadal Today in Madrid? […]

Von Says:


Here’s one of my posts. You can look for the other one to Sam as I don’t remember on which thread it’s posted:

“Von Says:
Kimmi: It was meant to make you laugh, but the truth is I don’t know and my speculation could be all wrong. Don’t worry, be happy, because Fed could win Madrid due to the high altitude, et al.

Posted May 10th, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Hope this is satisfactoryto you.

Ezorra Says:

Hi youyong,

“fedex – All credit to Fed for winning but I still think the one with the best chance to upset Nadal at FO is still Djokovic.” – Agree

“As for Wimbledon, I think both Murray and Djokovic have good chance to reach the finals and possibly win.” – Disagree

JackBlack Says:

Djokovic softened Rafa up for Federer. Without this Rafa would cruise to a 6:2 6:1 win.

But it sure is interesting to see all the hibernating Fed fans crawling back from their holes!

Kimmi Says:

Why do winners get the plates ? does not give a championship feel.

steve Says:


The guy played a five-hour match against Verdasco, then a four-hour match to beat Federer. He just doesn’t get tired.

It’s possible that playing so many tournaments in succession did wear him down, but I don’t think that’s the reason.

If it’s that he’s starting to get to the point where the victories blur together and he’s no longer quite as motivated psychologically, that’s a different story, and a much more interesting one.

Daniel Says:

I don’t buy this Djoko is the real treat to Rafa, the only player that has beaten Nadal on a clay final was Roger, twice! Djoko is great but he plays the game that gives Nadal rhytim, Fed at least uses some drop shots and variety and has a better serve, (Djoko needs desperatly to improve his serve), even though his backhand was very week today. I think he prefer to lose the point right away in the backhand side than wait Nadal to destroy it.

To beat Nadal you have to go for the shots, Fed painted the lines several times today, some were out, but most was in and it payed off.

Skorocel Says:

As much as I like Fed, this wasn’t obviously Nadal as we know him… The whole match virtually resembled the 1st set of that yesterday’s semi between Nadal and Djoker – that is Nadal making lots of uncharacteristic errors and more or less gifting the win to the opponent. Credit to Fed, though, for finishing it (and thus winning his first title in 2009)…

Naresh Says:

Pheww… Finally the voodoo’s broken.. Roger beats Rafa ! I’m not even thinking RG, cause winning 3 sets off Nadal is like breaking the ‘Speed of Light’ barrier.. but Wimbledon will be really interesting, with the top 4 having put their hands up this year.. just awesome for tennis !!!

steve Says:

I don’t favor Djokovic’s chances at a Grand Slam against either Federer or Nadal.

Their level goes up at a Grand Slam. It’s not that they’re deliberately holding back at the smaller events; just that subconsciously, they play at a higher level of intensity when the stakes are higher.

Djokovic can beat Federer with mono, or Murray can beat tired Nadal on his least favorite surface, but that’s it, so far. Perhaps that will change, but not this year.

youyong Says:

Ezorra – do you mean to say they absolutely don’t stand a chance? As much as a Nadal fan I am, I am not so confident of yet another Federer/Nadal Wimbledon final.

PietjeP Says:

Kimmi; I’m not making an excuse abour Rafa’s fitness. Like I said; it’s Rafa’s problem. Then he should play matches more attacking instead of grinding and close them out sooner. He always spents much, much more time on court then Fed or Djoko. Maybe if he does that, he can finally play full throttle after July/August. Having said that; I think he wins many matches because of the grinding. So to change that would not seem the smartest solution.

However; it will be interesting to see what happens at RG. I don’t think Fed will beat him there. Just can’t see it happen as much as I would like it. But you never know. If Rafa gets a tough draw, it could be.

Most important was that Fed played a little smarter and was not just grinding in with Rafa and trading groundstrokes. Keep the points short, mix it up, win or lose them yourself. That is the winning solution for Fed against Rafa on the dirt.

Robin Says:

excuses, excuses, EXCUSES….blah-blah-blah…
Looks like Federer has figured out Rafa at last!!! PREDICTION: Tennis world will be back to normal in 2009 – Roger at #1, Rafa at #2.

pete Says:

“But it sure is interesting to see all the hibernating Fed fans crawling back from their holes!”

and it sure is even more interesting to see all the rafa fans crawling into their holes!

NachoF Says:

I am so happy!!… cant believe he won… seriously, I was expecting a blowout like FO 08 final…. what I noticed is that Federer player much worse than Wimbledon 08 final or that Rome five setter he lost to Nadal once… but the change of tactic is what helped him……
Dont worry about it… I was just trying to say that it sounded more like you wanted to say Fed has no chances at Roland Garros more than you wanted to say he had chances at Madrid, thats all…

Ezorra Says:

youyong, I think they’re other players that have better chance to be in the final of Wimbledon other than Murray and Djokovic. Based on current form and their undeniable talent on grass court, I would say that Nadal, Fededer and Roddick are the favorites to be in the final of Wimbledon.

fed is afraid Says:

so what, roger will not win the one that counts, RG.

pete Says:

to fed is afraid : now we all know who is really afraid.

Robin Says:

Nadal is a great player ofcourse…but Roger is not done yet. He will re-claim the #1 position, will get at least 20 grand slams, and then Rafa can take over. This victory sends a message to the Tennis world: THE GREATEST MALE SINGLES TENNIS PLAYER OF ALL TIME is not done yet. He is BACK!!!

Von Says:

“But it sure is interesting to see all the hibernating Fed fans crawling back from their holes!”

and it sure is even more interesting to see all the rafa fans crawling into their holes!”

This is the fun time, and it’s what has been missing for quite a while. Hop to it guys, I’m enjoying the laughs, and carry on smartly or smartlessly, whichever one floats your boat, and/or sinks it. LOL.

fed is afraid Says:

a blip on the scene, rafa isn’t worried, he will win the one that counts, RG. like someone on the other thread said, nole did all the work and roger walks away with the trophy. such is life sometimes.

Ezorra Says:

“youyong, I think they’re other players that have better chance to be in the final of Wimbledon other than Murray and Djokovic.”

should be read “youyong, I think they’re other players that have better chance to be in the final of Wimbledon THAN Murray and Djokovic.”

pete Says:

“a blip on the scene, rafa isn’t worried”

maybe its an iceberg like the one that wrecked titanic.such is life….i agree

TennisMasta Says:

Well, Roger won and you lost Sean.

No amount of your asterisking this match and other Nadal’s losses will take away the fact that Roger beat Rafa today.

Just remember that the better player wins on a given day. The better player plays better, shows purpose and intent to win, and gets the needed breaks. And yes, he is also fitter despite any large age difference. There is no need to qualify anything.

Robin Says:

Djokovic has nothing to do with Fed vs Nadal, just as Fernando Verdasco has nothing to do with the Australian Open Finals. If you recall Nadal, in the Semifinal match against Verdasco they went 5 sets as well, and Rafa still won the Australian Open. For Tennis pros, fatigue is not a factor, no?

tommy Says:

Here comes all the excuses for Rafa. Yes, he didn’t play well but Roger caused much of that by his play. He added some drop shots and hit his backhand down the line as often as he could. As for Rafa being tired, he played one less match than Roger did (he received a walkover in the 3rd round) so he shouldn’t have been too tired- He actually played less time and games than Roger did this tournament.

fedfan Says:

Congratulations to Mr. Fed, and to all fellow Fed fans.

I agree that Nadal was not at its best today, but this was the case many times for Federer in the past finals? It is not because both players weren’t at their best level that the winner didn’t deserve the trophee.

I am very happy, of course, but I find it really annoying that some Rafa-Djoko fans try to ruin it whenever something good happens for Federer. It was the same for the US Open last year. Federer was close to Australian this year and Wimbledon last year, but both times, although very sad for Federer, I found Rafa very humble and human.

Nadal is a great player and has a perfect fighting spirit. I think that some of his fans should take example on the player. You guys can be disappointed (we Fed fans have had our share of disappointment already), but you should let us enjoy without trying to spoil the moment.

Fair play is a value that both Nadal and Fed have mastered. When is it that fans will learn that as well?

Gordo Says:

fed is afraid Says:
no way, rafa has taken up residence in rog’s empty head.

Posted May 17th, 2009 at 10:11 am

The very first post, so it kind of stands out.

Isn’t it a great internet world when you can spout off like a moron and be anonymous.

Still – at least I hope you realize that you ARE indeed a moron.

FedFanFrom Boston Says:

You are the most non-objective sports writer, and I am glad to see that your prediction, which was made with lot of arrogance and gusto was proven wrong, by the greatest player tennis has ever known..Roger Federer. For all those whining Rafa fans, the only way Rafa has won against RF is by stalling (taking injury timeouts to regroup) and getting illegal coaching (by uncle Toni). Rafa is a terrific player, perhaps a great player, but not in the league of RF. Let him (Rafa) try staying at the top for 4 years like Roger did and then maybe we can talk. My prediction… Rafa will not win RO, will not defend his Wimbledon crown and will be dethroned as the number one by the end of the year. Go Roger, more greatness awaits you and your legions of fans are behind you.

TheKingIsBack Says:

If Roger plays like he did today, I love to watch him play. NO ONE comes even close to his skills and elegance.

Richard Waddington Says:

Shows what crap that article was

Richard Waddington Says:

Federer the greatest

fed is afraid Says:

roger was the greatest of a weak era. rafa has to play and beat tough competitors like murray and nole. roger’s h2h nadal-7-13, murray 2-6 and nole will soon have the better h2h against federer. roger is a marshmallow.

fedrod Says:

Congrats to Federer to this very very important win! But let’s be realistic, neither Roger nor Nadal played that well today. This final match was not even close to being epic with many unforced errors from both sides. Federer kept choking at crucial points and hitting the ball long or to the net. Nadal also had an uncharacteristic number of unforced errors. I’m not taking the credit away from Federer, but Nadal’s main rival for RG is not Federer; it’s djokovic (who should have won yesterday)

Fed express Says:

What a great analysis. Federer won anyways… It wasnt even a three setter. Federer destroyed nadal.

eric Says:

Hi Sean,

You were so absolutedly sure that Federer can’t beat Nadal on yesterday Madrid’s final with a big No No… now what do you have to say about Federer Win?

Don’t give us all sort of alibis like Nadal was too tired blah..blah… coz your long answer to that was a “No-way” which had no excuses what so ever that Federer could win the match.

Think carefully next time when you write that there’s no certainty when it comes to prediction.


rafa fan Says:

Well tired or not, Roger won this. I hope Rafa can come back and win the french open.

fed is afraid – I really hope you are not a rafa fan, you make the rest of us look bad with all your senseless comments… why don’t you try being a bit more like rafa?

Steve Says:

For all those who think that Djokovic poses a real threat to Nadal at RG lets not forget that his fitness and endurance is nowhere near Nadal’s. As long as that is the case he will never be able to last 5 sets with Nadal at RG. On the other hand a player who can and has the talent to beat him is Roger Federer.

fred Says:

I’m a huge Nadal fan but using his so-called fatigue to explain his loss yesterday simply doesn’t cut it. One has only to look at Australia to realise that physical exertion does not really take its toll on Nadal (unless he’s injured, but that’s different).
The strongest part of Federer’s game is his technical brilliance; the strongest part of Nadal’s game is his mind – his resoluteness, and more importantly, his positive approach.
The latter was missing yesterday. Unusually for rafa, he has been bad-mouthing this tournament (in his own country for god’s sake) for months. From the intended colour of the clay, to the altitude, to the speed of the court (naturally as the air is thinner), to the high bounce, to its place in the tennis calendar, he has NOT STOPPED shooting his mouth off! He even insinuated that he was playing in it cuz it was expected of him!
It’s not surprising therefore that against the very top players he waspushed to the limit. Djokovic did not wear him down; Rafael Nadal wore himself down – IN HIS MIND!
Pity for him. Hope he learns from it is all I can say.

mel Says:

sean, don’t worry…there area days like this..when your favorite boy loses…it takes some time to get over it, especially after predicting a drubbing..but hey, you can always say that rafa was this, rafa was that…and maybe some would even believe you…but a win is still a win…

your bias is obvious. but it pays to give federer his due from time to time.

Roger-Rafa Says:

HaHa…. good to see that the “fed is afraid” moron is getting his behind whooped :) He had it coming. Now watch out for him to jump behind another player as Rafa’s results spiral down.

To those who are dishing it out to Sean, let me tell you that Sean speaks his mind. Rafa fans accuse him of being a Fed Fan and Fed fans accuse him of being a Rafa fan – that is a good sign, as one who has experienced similar comments from my friends, I can tell. It just means you can see the good in both guys, much more than blind fanatics. For what it is worth, Sean’s blog is a joy to read – he speaks his mind out, takes in the chin when he is wrong, doesnt rub it in for other ppl when he gets it right and most importantly is patient enough to let even morons like “fed is afraid/bullies r us” to make their inane comments so that they can be shred to pieces by other posters when they have spewed forth too much foolishness!

Anyways, here is a blog which actually predicted Roger in two

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