“Unforgettable Game”: Rafael Nadal Reminisces Beating Roger Federer’s Coach in an Epic Madrid Open Final

Published 04/30/2021, 6:54 AM EDT
ROME, ITALY: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in their Men’s Singles Round of 16 match during Day Five of the International BNL d’Italia at Foro Italico in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


As the 2021 Madrid Open gets underway, the five-time champion Rafael Nadal took a trip down memory lane and talked about his most special moment at the event.

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During the pre-tournament virtual talk, Nadal recalled the remarkable moment at the Madrid Open when he won the title for the first time back in 2005. The Spaniard defeated former World No. 3 and current coach of Roger Federer, Ivan Ljubicic, in a thrilling five-set final.

Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Monte Carlo Masters – Monte-Carlo Country Club, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France – April 14, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his second round match against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Rafael Nadal remembers his most special moment at the Madrid Open

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Nadal fondly reminisced the epic final in which he lost the opening two sets but made a stunning comeback to win in the fifth set tie-break.

“The first, which was in 2005. It was the final, even if it wasn’t on land. It was an unforgettable game, very exciting, where I remember that the public was incredible,” said Nadal.

(Quotes have been translated)

However, Nadal mentioned that the exhaustion during the match resulted in a foot injury which prevented him from competing in the season-ending championships. Until 2008, the Madrid Open was played on indoor hard courts as one of the events preceding the ATP Nitto Finals.

PARIS, FRANCE: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Despite the foot injury, Nadal revealed that the emotions he experienced post the 2005 victory were unforgettable. Then 19-years-old, Nadal expressed that winning in his home country made the win special.

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“The game cost me a few months of sports career. I broke my foot but it was worth it. It was worth the emotion I experienced, that made it impossible to forget… It was amazing to be able to win at home like that, besides being very young,” added Nadal.

The 20-time Grand slam champion will enter the upcoming Madrid Open on the backdrop of lifting a record 12th title at the Barcelona Open last week.

Being the most successful player in Madrid Open’s history, Nadal will aim for a sixth title and a 36th Masters 1000 crown. Presently, Nadal is one title short of equaling Novak Djokovic‘s record of 36 Masters 1000 titles.

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Just two days back, Djokovic announced his withdrawal from the Madrid Open. The Serbian won the title at the tournament’s last edition in 2019. Djokovic’s absence makes Nadal the No. 1 seed at the event.

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Kshitij Tayal

365 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district-level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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