Nadal wary of rejuvenated Federer

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Rafael Nadal believes his Madrid Masters final defeat to Roger Federer demonstrated that the Swiss superstar remains a serious Roland Garros threat.

Updated: May 24, 2009 09:02 IST
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Four-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal believes his Madrid Masters final defeat to old rival Roger Federer demonstrated that the Swiss superstar remains a serious Roland Garros threat.

Nadal, who has never lost here and is bidding for an historic fifth successive Paris title, said Friday he never doubted the strength of Federer's character even when he reduced his great rival to tears in the Australian Open final earlier this year.

Many in the sport interpreted that emotional collapse to be conclusive evidence that Nadal, having already taken his Wimbledon title, was now the sports's only real superpower.

"He was always there. He didn't have a bad loss this year. He lost to me in Australia, Murray in Doha and Indian Wells, Djokovic in Miami and in Rome," said Nadal, whose 33-match winning streak on clay was halted by Federer in Spain.

"He's doing well. It's always difficult to be perfect for five years, six years. I think everyone would like to have his problems with 13 Grand Slams."

Nadal also shrugged off his experiences in Madrid where he reached the final only after a four-hour semi-final win over Novak Djokovic where he had to save three match points.

He was physically and mentally shattered by the time he played Federer the next day.

For the world number one, the events of Madrid's Magic Box will have no bearing whatsoever on the French Open when it gets underway on Sunday.

Not only has Nadal won all 28 matches he has played here, he has also defeated Federer in the last three finals.

"I am very happy with my claycourt season. I won in Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and made the final in Madrid. It's almost a perfect claycourt season," he said.

"Madrid was a difficult tournament. The court was fast, the balls were flying a lot. It was very difficult to control the ball and I didn't play that well in the competition.

"I played OK for a set and a half against Djokovic. The rest I didn't play well. Here you can feel the ball. You have more control."

World number three Andy Murray, who is seeded to face Nadal in the semi-finals, also believes the events in Spain could help Federer.

"The altitude in Madrid does make a difference," said the Scotsman. "But anytime you beat Nadal on clay is going to be big for your confidence.

"I would expect Rafa to make the final here. I think Roger will probably have some tough matches if he is to make the final."

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