Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal met in the 2009 Madrid Masters final, the first year the event was held on clay.
In 2009, the ATP schedule underwent a major shift at the Masters level: The fall indoor event in Madrid would take the place of the long-running clay-court event in Hamburg, Germany, and also switch surfaces to serve as one of the major warmups for the French Open.
Playing a Masters event in his home country, it was expected that top-ranked Rafael Nadal would make a strong showing at the tournament and the 2005 champion didn’t disappoint as he reached the final. It wasn’t an easy run, though, as Novak Djokovic pushed him to the brink in the semifinals, with the two playing the longest best-of-three match time-wise in the Open Era. In the final, Nadal would face Roger Federer, the world No. 2 who also was tested at times on his way to the title match.
At the beginning of the year, Federer and Nadal faced each other in the Australian Open final for the first time, which Nadal won in five sets to leave Federer frustrated at the prospects of beating his rival. In search of his first title of the year, the Swiss stayed on even ground with Nadal through eight games. The ninth game saw Federer step up the aggression on his returns and he was able to gain the first break of the match. After that, he closed out the opener 6-4 on his serve.
In the second set, the two players remained equal through the first four games as Nadal held at love both times on his serve. Federer gained another break to take a 3-2 lead, which would be all the advantage he needed against the weary Spaniard. Serving once again with a 5-4 lead, Federer replicated his feat from the first set, this time to clinch the title, his first of the year. He also brought an end to a six-match losing streak against Nadal, his biggest rival.
Federer won his second clay-court final against Nadal out of 10 championship matches on the surface.
With the win, Federer secured at least one title on the surface for the seventh time in eight years. The only time he missed out over that span was in 2006, when Nadal topped him in three finals.
The only other time Nadal lost a clay-court final in his career came in 2007, when Federer defeated him in the title bout in Hamburg, Germany.