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Rafa beats Roger in the Battle of Surfaces

02.05.2007 | Off Court

“Who is going to be the king of both surfaces?” was the question that circulated when both players announced to play an exhibition match on a customized half-clay, half-grass court in


Majorca . In the end, it was the 20-year-old world number two who snatched a 5-7 6-4 6-7 (10) in an incredible tie-break thriller against our world number one.

In the run-up to the battle of surfaces, which wasn’t to be taken too seriously in terms of tennis statistics and rankings, Rafa invited Roger for a short trip around his home island. In a motor yacht they cruised around the Spanish island, together with invited guests and sponsors and did some sightseeing in


Majorca. Both of the athletes were ratherexcited about the opportunity to meet on court under such special circumstances.

"The result is not the most important thing. It's about having fun out there," Roger said. "It's going to be exciting and a good atmosphere. It doesn't always need to be crazy serious out on the match courts."

Organizers needed 19 days and $1.63 million to create the court, which divided the surfaces by halves for a unique match in which both players could receive on clay and hit a winner on grass - or vice versa.

Already the advance sale let


anticipate, that the event was going to be a big success: It took not more than three hours to sell all 7’000 tickets for to an enthusiastic crowd of tennis fans.

Roger first did some warming-up at a local tennis club and then switched to the indoor court, which is normally used as a velodrome.

The opening three games went with serve, Nadal kicking off proceedings by serving from the clay end, Roger responding in kind and Nadal holding at the grass end. Then, despite serving on grass, Roger lost his way to hand Nadal a 3-1 lead. The Spaniard consolidated the break and came close to a 5-1 lead but Roger recovered from 0-30 down to hold from the clay end.

It proved crucial as our tennis star recovered the break from the clay end before holding on grass to draw level at 4-4. Service games were traded again before Nadal held on grass and broke Roger from the opposite end to take the set. 


Our champion came out fighting in the second set, immediately breaking Nadal, who was serving on his favoured clay. That proved to be enough to eventually take the set 6-4 and level the match.

In the decider Nadal broke serve in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead, but Roger hit straight back and then held serve to level at 3-3. Neither of the players could force a decisive break and the match went into a tie-break.

Roger claimed the first mini-break to go 2-0 up, and led 4-2 at the changeover. But Nadal came back on his favoured surface to force another change of ends at 6-6. The pair could not be separated, changing ends again at 9-9, but Nadal's finally broke at 11-10 for victory.

At the end, both champions did their best to show the spectators a thrilling and tight exhibition match – which at least sounds very promising for us for future duels between the two tennis stars.

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05/03/2007 | 10:08 PM
Like some have pointed out before it's hard for anyone to beat you on Clay other than Nadal. I mean you and Nadal are flying high above the rest, it's really nice to be on this earth at this time you see you two play every now and then. :)
05/03/2007 | 09:28 PM
Sometimes, Roger, you are a wonderful escape from things less righteous. Your Swiss values impress us all. Just watching you with Spaniards, Belges, Argentinians, Italians, Asians, Aussies and many others makes us here in America long for a world free of
05/03/2007 | 09:21 PM
Hope you had fun and no injuries! Good Luck in Rome. Believe in yourself and be confident.You CAN win on clay. Best of Luck.
05/03/2007 | 08:59 PM
well i dont know what 2 say after this thrilling match played by u but in the end u lost!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
cant accept this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
but any ways rafa could have
05/03/2007 | 08:39 PM
its awesome to have some rival like nadal to help keeping the feet on the ground roger. I hope you can use him to play even better than you do, and make it easier the road to be the best player of all time.

congrats, you are great.
05/03/2007 | 08:00 PM
Moi! It must have been fun to play that way...
05/03/2007 | 07:57 PM
I think, that it was good match for you. Don't show Rafa your playing style on clay court . Make him a surprise on Roland Garros. You have to win this tournament and Grand Slam! :)
05/03/2007 | 07:31 PM
Sounds like this was REALLY exciting !! Too bad it was not broadcast in the USA...
05/03/2007 | 06:18 PM
Way to come back during the match! Don't worry about not winning, you played absolutely amazing and gave the crowd a great show. When the tie break is that close, we all know that it could of gone either way. Good job and I hope you had fun out th
05/03/2007 | 05:45 PM
i asume that it was a great match just to get fun and entertain the audience but why i didn´t like was that the grass was absolutely bad i mean somebody said that the grass was taking from a golf court a few hours before the match i don´t find that fair b
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