The Madrid Masters proved to be a turning point for Roger Federer last year: by winning the tournament, he established himself as a serious contender on clay which was realised in his victory at the French Open. A couple of weeks later he underlined his pre-eminance on the tour by regaining his Wimbledon title on the grass courts of the All England Club.
As Federer prepares to defend his Madrid title, he will be keen to address the lack of consistency he’s shown on the tour this year and for the event to have a similar turnaround in his fortunes this year.
Since capturing the Australian Open in January, Federer has won five matches and lost four, including his surprise defeat by the world 34 Alberto Montanes in the Estoril Open semi-finals last week.
However, Federer has been able to successfully raise his game for the big tournaments in the last couple of years, regardless of his results elsewhere on the tour.
In contrast to his three Grand Slam victories in the past 12 months, his best performance in a non-Slam or Masters tournament was as a runner-up at Basel. The last time he won a tournament outside of the Masters and Slams was in 2008 (also Basel).
“I’m doing well in training, I’m only lacking a bit of match time,” said Federer before the start of the Madrid Open. “I’m hitting the ball cleanly, but maybe not as clean as I did to win in Australia though. But it’s not far away. I’m doing the right things and I’m not worried.”
“For me, the Madrid title in 2009 was the key to Paris. Winning the event by beating fellow rivals was very important. But no matter what happens here [at the Madrid Masters], I’ll be prepared for Paris.”