Madrid: Rafael Nadal overcame Roger Federer
5-7, 6-1, 6-3 to set up a Madrid Masters final against Novak
Djokovic on an emotional day that had started with a tearful
tribute to Seve Ballesteros.
World number one Nadal stood side-by-side with old rival
Federer in a minute`s silence at the Caja Magica before a
showreel of Ballesteros`s greatest moments played out on the
giant courtside screens.
"It`s a terrible day for Spain and the world. We lost a
great champion, probably the greatest in the history of
Spain," said Nadal of the 54-year-old golfing legend, who lost
his brave fight against cancer.
"Seve was one of the pioneers in so many things...
especially in golf. He was an example to everyone."
Despite the sombre occasion, Nadal, with a black ribbon
pinned to his shirt as a mark of respect for his compatriot,
went on to thrill his fans and reach his third Madrid final in
His victory set up a familiar final for the world number
one, with Nadal to face off for the third straight time at a
Masters this season against world number two Djokovic.
The Serb overcame an early lapse to hold off unseeded
Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
One way or another, a streak will be broken in today`s
final with Nadal not having lost on clay in 37 matches and
Djokovic undefeated on all surfaces in 2011 after 31 straight
Nadal will be bidding for his third clay title of the
spring after Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
He has now beaten Federer in 11 of 13 meetings on clay
and stands 16-8 overall in their epic series.
It was the third straight year the all-star pair had
played in Madrid, with Federer winning the 2009 trophy and
Nadal doing the same 12 months ago.
"I`m glad to have won, but it was not our best
match. It was an emotional day for me and Spain," added Nadal.
Federer now heads to the Rome Masters with a 26-7 record
for the season and one title from Doha, having played his last
final in Dubai in February.