Last time Madrid Open’s 3-time Champion Federer played on clay was in Rome Masters of 2016. With his return after 3 years, many expected him to not have an easy match against the Frenchmen Richard Gasquet. Yet Federer amazed everybody giving an impression as if he was never away from the red dirt.
In an express mode, 3-time Champion Federer finished the first set in just 22 minutes wining it 6 games to 2. In the second set, Gasquet did put of a fight but the Swiss maestro was always a step ahead. It was a fantastic display of inch perfect backhand and drop shots with pin point accuracy. The match ended in mere 52 minutes.
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The testimony to Federer’s level lay in the post match statistics. The Swiss superstar hit 28 winners compared to 20 unforced errors. He was also solid on both wings, hitting 13 forehand and 8 backhand winners.
Federer’s serve also gave him an edge over his opponent. He fired 7 aces compared to Gasquet’s 1 ace. The maestro was particularly impressive on the 2nd serve winning almost 80% of his second serve points.
At the post match press conference Federer seemed delighted with his performance. He said, ‘’ the crowd was great. It is always wonderful here in Spain. I have been well received over the last decade.’’
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“I was very calm all day but two hours before, I was feeling a bit. The nerves went quickly and I am just happy I started well. I have been missing clay and this is a great return’’
Federer’s own game though splendid was also assisted by his opponent not being 100 percent match fit. Gasquet was struggling with his movement and that invited few more unforced errors from the Frenchman.
CHOOSING MADRID FOR CLAY COMEBACK
3-time Champion Federer skipped clay season in 2017 and 2018 to keep his body fresh for the grass court season. When he decided to make a comeback in 2019, Madrid was a strategic choice for him to begin.
The Mutua Madrid Masters has been one of Federer’s most successful clay court events. He has been a 3 time Champion here in 2006, 2009 and 2011.
One of Federer’s most remarkable clay wins came in Madrid in 2009, when he defeated his arch nemesis Rafael Nadal in the final in straight sets. It was the same year when Federer finally won Roland Garros also.
The courts of Madrid suit Federer’s game style than other clay events. Due to high altitude location, the ball bound travels faster and bounces slightly lower than places like Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
Federer would surely take confidence from his opening win. He knows that there are no easier draws out there and the road would get tougher with each round. Gael Monfils who is in top form awaits Federer in round of 16 with Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic possible quarter-final and semifinal opponents.