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(There’s a clearance sale on blue-themed tennis phrases right now – gotta use them while I can!)
“It was tough. I was down for the whole time.” Roger said after Sunday’s final in Madrid. “It’s always special winning a title 7-5 in the third.
Yeah, special for you, but what about your fans’ fingernails?
Tough indeed, but worth the effort. Roger Federer beat Tomas Berdych 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 at the Madrid Masters today, winning his 20th Masters title (tying Nadal’s all-time record) and his seventh final out of the last 10 events he’s played. He also snagged the No. 2 ranking from Rafael Nadal, nudging him that little step closer to his ultimate goal: enjoying another week or so at No. 1.
The man’s on fire, blazing a blue streak, so to speak. Might as well enjoy it, I doubt we’ll be seeing blue streaks in the Caja Magica next season.
Roger addressed the surface tension that’s plagued the tournament, saying it was, well, tough:
“It has been a tough tournament. Tough to move, but you’ve got to try to make the most of it. Here there was some good tennis and some bad tennis, but you see that in all tournaments.”
And make the most of it he did. That’s what makes this victory so impressive, and so important, for Federer followers. He saw the unique opportunities this week presented – a tricky surface, grouchy rivals, an opening in the ranks – and took them. Down break points, set points, match points, facing a finalist who’s had his number recently – it was all good for Roger Federer. He threw his arms around this blue-haired freak of a tournament and exclaimed: Madrid, I’m yours!
(Ahh, what a mother’s day gift!)
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Of course it will be a different story on the red, red, clay of Rome. I grinned at Nole’s reaction after practicing in Foro Italico: “This clay feels great, feels just great. In fact, it seems like paradise.”
So call Roger the Blue Devil. Next week, who knows? Though the players have made it clear that red clay is a very different surface from blue, and we can rationally assume that Roger’s victory in Madrid doesn’t translate”on paper” to any advantage on the terre battue, I think it gives Roger a distinct mental advantage heading into the red meat of the clay court season. As Berdych said in his runner’s up remarks: “He showed he’s the real star.”
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Speaking of real: Serena Williams knows how to win as well as anyone in the game. And she’s proven beyond a doubt that she can beat Victoria Azarenka, regardless of current rankings. Serena took out the top player in the world 6-1, 6-3 today in Madrid. It’s the seventh time Williams has been victorious over Vika in their eight meetings. Madrid was also Serena’s second consecutive clay court tournament win after returning from a long break, having taken the title on the green clay of Charleston last month. Only Caroline Wozniacki managed to take a set off of the American this week in Madrid, the Dane’s accomplishment shining brighter as the week progressed and Serena routed both Azarenka and current No. 2, Maria Sharapova. If anyone was doubting Serena’s fitness, focus or motivation going into Roland Garros: It’s time to get real.
There were some fun/funny moments during and after Roger’s trophy presentation, all presided over by Will Smith, who was promoting Men in Black III:
Roger fends off the model ball girls with his prickly trophy baton:
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The Men In Black III film premier followed the final at the Caja Magica, where Roger was once again playing some tennis vs. Will Smith and a giant tennis racquet? Something tells me the director, Barry Sonnenfeld, was quite happy that Roger was the Madrid champ. (It was so close to being: “Who the hell is the stiff blonde guy next to Will Smith?”)
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From Roger’s expression, you’d think this was as big a thrill as winning the tournament.
Photo by Photo by Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images via Daylife
Keep smiling, Roger!