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Nadal beats Federer on half-clay, half-grass court

Nadal beats Federer on half-clay, half-grass court

In the end, Roger Federer's favorite surface cost him on Wednesday.
Two-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal beat Federer 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10) in an exhibition match on a half-grass, half-clay court when Federer couldn't reach Nadal's forehand as it took an awkward bounce across the green side of the court.
"The ball bounced badly and it cost both of us," Federer said.
The four-time Wimbledon champion was leading 4-1 in the tiebreak before Nadal rallied. After the Spaniard double-faulted while leading 6-5, the world's two best players traded match points before Nadal hit three of the final four winners from the clay side in front of a sellout crowd of about 7,000.
"We're used to playing long, hard games with a lot of tension involved," Federer said. "So it's fun to play on this half-grass, half-clay surface."
Nadal came into the match with a record 72 straight wins on clay, while Federer hasn't lost on grass in four years _ a 48-match run that includes four straight Wimbledon titles.
The grass caused some awkward bounces, especially as the match progressed. But both players showed little difficulty in switching surfaces, as they changed shoes at changeovers.
Aside from holding the homecourt advantage, Nadal may have held a slight edge on the clay surface after the grounds crew was forced on Wednesday morning to rip up and re-lay the grass court, which required US$1.63 million (euro1.2 million) and 19 days to prepare.
Nadal, serving from clay to start, won the first point of the match after a rally of groundstrokes ended with Federer hitting his forehand into the net. Another Federer shot into the net, a backhand, gave the Spaniard the first game.
Nadal broke first in the fourth game on grass then watched Federer net a forehand as the Spaniard held from the clay for a 4-1 lead.
Federer shook off early errors and found his rhythm, rallying to 4-4 after a break of his own, before Nadal lashed a crosscourt forehand winner for a 5-4 advantage before breaking Federer again in the 12th game for the set.
Federer bounced back in the second, breaking Nadal on his second try from the green side. Federer's one break while returning on grass was enough for the 10-time Grand Slam champion to prevail in the second.
After the players split the first two sets, the jokes dissipated as both players went for the win, with Nadal displaying his trademark fist-pump for the first time after Federer's forehand landed long on the clay for a 4-3 lead.
Both players held serve to force the tiebreaker, with Nadal dominating the baseline and Federer the net.
"It was a long match, with many changes of pace and with little time to adapt," Nadal said. "My feet are suffering as a price of having to adapt to the grass."
Despite the exhibition match holding the intensity of a final, both players were keen to repeat next year.
"It was a fun way to pass 2 1/2 hours," Nadal said.
Nadal, who has won three straight titles at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, held a 4-0 lead over Federer on clay. Federer is 1-0 against the Spaniard on grass.
Nadal leads the series with Federer 7-3.


Updated : 2021-05-14 22:24 GMT+08:00