Aah Madrid ... one of my favourite cities as I'm sure its one of Rafa's ... played in Rafa's homeland ... and as he opted out of Barcelona, the only time this year that "his public" will get to see him play in an active tournament.
Yet I do believe ... he hates it. He doesn't like the arena, the court, the clay, the tournament director ... but most of all, he hates the altitude and the effect it has on his tennis. Remember old grumpy chops from last year? Well ... we know of the mitigating circumstances now, but it still feels as if its just something he has to get off the agenda until he re-groups again for Roland Garros.
Again he entered the competition as being the champion of Monte Carlo and Rome and he played good, effective tennis to get through the competition in the following fashion:-
Dolgopolov : 6-4, 6-3
Isner : 7-5, 6-4
Monfils : 6-1, 6-3
Almagro : 4-6, 6-2, 6-2
And then whot? Who was his opponent in the final to be? Aye ... old big 'Ed ... Feds.
This famed duo had not met since the final of the exact same tournament 12 months ago - which Feds won.
It was the final everyone hoped for but could it live up to the hype? Would Rafa overcome the altitude and fast clay? Could Feds take a bit out of his negative head-to-head record against Rafa? The first set was a nervy affair with both players' serve being broken. Up 5-4, Rafa barely managed to hold serve and take the first set - as we all watched from behind our sofas. Things settled a bit in the second set, but nerves were still apparent. Rafa broke early, but Fed broke back, and Rafa had to hold to push things to a tiebreak. And, in the weirdest match point ever with Feds hitting THE most fantastic of air shots, Rafa won 6-4, 7-6(5).
This, however, was one special victory. Not because of who he beat - but because of this most magnificent and significant of achievements ... making history. He has become the first player to beat Agassi's record as he attains 18 Masters 1000 wins, and he became the first player to win 3 Masters in a row and the 3 clay Masters to boot.
Congratulations Rafa. After the year you've had, no better player or person deserves it, and we as your Rafateers and fans are so very, very proud of you. In his victory speech after receiving his trophy from the Queen of Spain, Rafa thanked "his public". Much laughter ensued thereafter as he meant to thank his TEAM and then the public.
But sometimes that's what we feel like Rafa, and we are honoured to watch and support you. VAMOS !!!
Pictures and video clips of the main event ...