It was only a Virtual Madrid Masters this year as Covid-19 continues to put the tennis world on hold.
So, we picked out five Madrid classics for you to enjoy. From Stefanos Tsitsipas’ reckoning, to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s marathon, since the tournament moved to clay in 2009, it has certainly provided us with some special memories.
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5. Kei Nishikori v David Ferrer (2014, Semi-Final)
Nishikori was looking for the first Masters final of his career after an extraordinary run of form had seen him make the last four of Indian Wells and lift his second ATP 500 title in Barcelona. But there were question marks over the Japanese No.1’s fitness and he would need every ounce of energy to battle with David Ferrer. What followed was one of the most extraordinary matches in the tournament’s recent history.
4. Grigor Dimitrov v Dominic Thiem (2017, Round Three)
Dimitrov had suffered three consecutive first round exits going into Madrid but suddenly found some of his best clay court tennis. Unfortunately for him, Dominic Thiem was not playing too badly, either. A special match between two of the most dynamic players on tour, and still their only meeting on clay.
3. Dominic Thiem v Roger Federer (2019, Quarter-Final)
Federer made his long-awaited return to clay in Madrid. His last match on the red stuff had been a straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem in Rome 2016. There were already green shoots for the Swiss with victories over Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils in the opening two rounds. Thiem posed a far more formidable challenge on clay than three seasons ago, though, and had recently secured his first hard court victory over Federer in the final of Indian Wells.
2. Stefanos Tsitsipas v Rafael Nadal (2019, Semi-Final)
Nadal had given Tsitsipas a chastening lesson in the semi-final of the Australian Open. Though the Greek had bounced back with titles in Marseille and Estoril the week before, he had still failed to threaten at a Masters event since defeat to Nadal in the final of the Rogers Cup the year before. Then again, the Spaniard was hardly enjoying a vintage clay court season after consecutive semi-final defeats in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. This match had a lot riding on it for both men, and it proved to be a dramatic contest.
1. Novak Djokovic v Rafael Nadal (2009, Semi-Final)
This was the fourth of seven meetings between the pair in 2009 and by far their most memorable. Both were on a hot run of form, Nadal having fended off the Serb in back-to-back finals in Monte Carlo and Rome to extend his win-streak on clay to 32 matches. But rarely will both men have had to work so hard over three sets as they did here – a breath-taking four-hour epic and still the second longest three set match of all time.