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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 | 07:40 AM
Sorry. Oof course I meant the person on the clay side had much more time to set up the shot for a winner.
05/03/2007 | 07:38 AM
Watching the match, I thought the "court" was not good -- looked like the grass was just a flimsy thin layer on top of something else. I didn't find it that interesting, to be honest, a bit gimmicky. If you're on the grass side hitting to the clay, you
05/03/2007 | 07:37 AM
Obviously, you are a better player. But somehow you seem to loss your focus and committed too many errors (not only this match but lately). I hope and will be very happy to see you win/beat Nadal in clay court /get the slam( the way you did inWBD, and oth
05/03/2007 | 07:16 AM
Hi Roger,

It was wonderful to see you playing and enjoying yourself! I love to see you smiling, you should do that more often, it lights up your whole beautiful face!!
Pity about the result, but you could have and should have had the match. I was just
05/03/2007 | 06:43 AM
What an incredible match, I'm glad you and Rafa had a lot of fun, - and didn't get injured! it was fun for us who got to watch. Maybe next time you can get that long-awaited win over Nadal!!
05/03/2007 | 06:32 AM
I agree with "tennisnyc",
hope Roger can beat Nadal at the next tournament especially at RG,
like he beat Roddick at Australian Open.

Dear Roger,
I hope that socre 5-7 6-4 6-7 (10)
will help you get your self confidence back.

Good luck at R
05/03/2007 | 06:27 AM
I'm really sad that you lost. I wish you could find a way to beat Rafa. They won't be able to say you're the best of all time until you can win consistently on clay, and especially against Nadal.
05/03/2007 | 06:16 AM
Well Roger, u had the initiative by leading the tie breaker 4-2;then suddenly the error has creaped in and it was a thrilling match anyway.U have to go allout at Rome and at Hamberg and ofcourse the all impartant French Open .I predict your win in all the
05/03/2007 | 06:03 AM
Hi everyone,

It's an entertaining, funny and joyful match I've ever seen.

The funniest part was that they had to change theirs shoes during every changeover, even in tiebreak. I laughed a lot at those moments.

Federer played great, that explained
05/03/2007 | 05:45 AM
R O G I !!!

Hi Champ... u played fanastic... much better than Nadal.. even u lost u showed why u r the best. even u r not at ur best right now... its obvious some months ago, or some weeks later the result would have been different.

Personally, i l