Madrid Open, the temporary magic of Federer

TDR SPORTS CORNER

by Matthias Krug

There will always be Federer. That was the headline of one of the local newspapers as the later rounds began, when the favourites started falling by the wayside. First Nadal in the third round, then Djokovic, a round later, as he skidded out of the tournament losing to his countryman Janko Tipsarevic. The top two players were thus out of the running, amidst gasps of surprise and smiles of disbelief. Fernando Verdasco had undone Nadal’s hard-running game, only to lose the following day in straight sets to the later finalist, Thomas Berdych.

And off to some start the underdog went in the final, taking the first set with a classy performance of power tennis to the score of 6-3.

On the other side of the net as the packed Caja Magica Stadium felt the effects of a heated Sunday, was Roger. Always Federer. Right at the beginning of the second set the new world number 2 asserted his own precision game and went up a break, eventually winning the second set 7-5.

The third set, another monumental struggle between two inspired players, went the Swiss maestro’s way too, by the same score line. The blue clay courts of Madrid had their first champion. Three titles in this tournament. And there were his two twin daughters to celebrate with their father. The fans in Madrid were delighted too, despite the absence, for once, of Nadal in the final.

The Swiss magician’s popularity in Madrid is based on two factors; one being is unquestionable status as a living legend in the world of tennis, and sports in general, the other an increasing awareness that Federer will not come back eternally to the blue courts of the capital city. Not that he has threatened to boycott the tournament if the colour of clay did not change, as Nadal and Djokovic did after their respective losses. Rather, at 31 years, the age of retirement is slowly creeping up.

It is then a very temporary magic which the spectators witnessed as Federer marched through his matches after a difficult opening round. He dispatched Gasquet with style, then Ferrer with ease, and in the semifinals marched through majestically against Tipsarevic.

Just a day earlier Guardiola’s era as the coach of Barcelona had ended in La Liga, reminding sports fans of the temporary nature of success. But Federer promised to be back next year. It will be interesting to see whether Nadal and Djokovic will be back too, to challenge the magic racket of Roger Federer.

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