Madrid Open: Top 5 most memorable matches
Ahead of the tournament’s 20th Anniversary, join Tennishead as we look at some of the most gripping and extraordinary matches from the Madrid Open, including the 2005 blockbuster final which features a certain 19 year old Spaniard.
5. Serena Williams vs Victoria Azarenka
Serena Williams came into the 2015 Madrid Open in red hot form. She had won the first Grand Slam of the year in Australia and was undefeated in 2015 heading into the first tournament of the clay court season. She continued her unbeaten run with first and second round straight set victories against compatriots Madison Brengle and Sloane Stephens.
However in the last 16 she faced a sterner test in two-time Australian Open Champion, Victoria Azarenka. The first set was a tightly contested affair which lead to a tie-break. Despite the Belarusian storming into a 5-1 lead, Williams rattled off six consecutive points to win the tie break and take the first set. The former World number one then clinched the second set 6-3.
The deciding set went back and forth, until Azarenka got the decisive break and found herself serving for the match at 6-5 and 40-0. However, a Serena Williams winner combined with a backhand into the net and three back to back double faults by Azarenka, meant that she lost the game and they went into a match deciding tie-break.
Williams prevailed winning 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (1) rattling off five points in a row to secure her passage into the quarter-finals.
4. Roger Federer vs Feliciano Lopez
The two veterans of the game faced off in the second round of the Madrid Open back in 2011 producing a classic. Lopez, who has never beaten Roger Federer in the 13 times they have played each other, arguably came the closest in his career to upsetting the Swiss legend, taking the 20 time Grand Slam Champion to three tie-breaks.
The Spaniard, who had seen off Milos Raonic in his opener, narrowly lost the first set tie-break 5-7 but then took control in the second set tie-break winning 7-1.
Again, he took the 8-time Wimbledon Champion to a third-set tiebreak, where he missed a smash that would have given him four match points. However, Federer responded and ended up inflicting a 7-6 (13), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (7) defeat after two hours and 56 minutes.
3. Maria Sharapova vs Simona Halep
In 2014, Sharapova went one step further than she did in the 2013 Madrid Open, by lifting the trophy after a final victory over Romania’s Simona Halep.
The Russian was blown away in the first set 6-1 by the fourth seed Halep. However, the five time Grand Slam champion reasserted her dominance and clinched the title, winning 1-6, 6-2, 6-3 in the Manolo Santana Stadium. The WTA title win was Sharapova’s 31st out of 35 title wins in her career and was her third straight victory against a Top 5 opponent.
Interestingly, only three weeks later, the two met again in the final of the 2014 French Open producing the same result. Sharapova beat first time Major finalist Halep in three sets to claim her second French Open title and final ever Grand Slam title.
2. Rafael Nadal vs Ivan Ljubicic
The 2005 final between Nadal and Ljubicic is widely considered to be the best final in the history of the tournament. On the indoor courts of the old venue in Casa de Campo, the Spaniard, who was exhausted and even broke his foot during the game, lost the first two sets to the Croatian, 3-6, 2-6.
Just when it looked like he was set to miss out on his first title at the ATP Masters 1000 event, he managed to turn the match on its head through a now well established display of grit and determination to the home crowd’s amazement.
He made the decisive break in the fourth game of the third set to start an unlikely comeback. After claiming the fourth set 6-4, the championship match went into a deciding fifth set. Both players broke each other once, with an eventual tie-break having to separate the two players. Nadal dominated the tie-break winning 7-3. In a mammoth three hours and 53 minutes, Nadal had claimed his eleventh title of 2005 and his first ever Madrid Open title.
1. Nadal vs Djokovic
The first edition on the Caja Mágica clay, in 2009, produced what was at the time the longest match in the history of the ATP Masters 1000s. It was played by Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals where, after four hours and three minutes, the Spaniard defeated the Serb 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (9).
Nadal, again recorded an impressive comeback win in Madrid as he faced three match points in the deciding set tie-break, including one 20 shot match point which the Spaniard saved with a huge forehand down the line. At the second time of asking, Nadal took his chance and sealed his passage to his fourth consecutive final, after Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, extending his 2009 record on clay to 17-0.
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