Roger Federer was back to his masterful best in Madrid, seeing off Thomas Berdych despite dropping the first set. (Image | Bleacher Report)

Roger Federer sent out a clear message to his rivals ahead of Wimbledon this summer by beating Thomas Berdych to win the Madrid Open. The Czech world number seven dominated the first set on the Spanish clay, making just two unforced errors, but you can never discount Federer.

The Swiss hadn’t played for six weeks and had already lost twice this year to Berdych, but was able to break his opponent’s serve in the second set and go on to snatch it. Federer’s win in Madrid was his fourth tournament victory this year, and victory at Roland-Garros could see the career Grand Slam winner surpass Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks as the world number one.

Meanwhile, in the women’s final, Serena Williams laid down her title credentials for the French Open as well, in another throwback to history, thanks to a straight sets victory over Victoria Azarenka. Williams’ was yet to play in Europe this year, and on her first appearance, such a commanding win, and that extended the American’s winning streak to 13 matches, sends out a clear message to the world number one. Azarenka was outplayed in every way by the 27 time Grand Slam winner, who last picked one of these up in 2010, and the result saw Williams climb up to sixth in the world ahead.

Williams was typically gracious in victory, and her post-match interview hinted at her vitality and “thirst” for tennis which could prove dangerous at Roland-Garros and Wimbledon: “”My whole thing is just to play consistent and that is what I have been doing the past couple of weeks. I belong on a tennis court and that’s where I feel amazing.”

Federer, meanwhile, was presented with a framed Men in Black suit by actor Will Smith, and briefly touched on discussing Sampras’ record: “Back then I was just trying to stay world number one and I never really looked at Pete’s record that much.

“I guess I could have chased it a few years ago, just really trying to beat that record. It’s no secret for any player out there that you’d rather be number one than number two. But I look at the long term, and maybe if I wasn’t good enough to break that record then maybe I never will be.”

A dejected and infuriated Rafael Nadal turned on the new blue clay courts, which have been the talking point of the entire tournament, and panned by both Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic. (Image | Bleacher Report)

With two of the sport’s ageing professionals having once again proved their worth, the new clay courts at Madrid came under fire from the younger guns of tennis, particularly Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The latter directly attributed his defeat to Fernando Verdasco in the third round to the “slippy” surface, and both threatened to boycott the tournament next year if the blue clay stays: “If things continue, [there] will be one less tournament in my calendar, said Nadal.

Williams laughed off the protests of the two Grand Slam champs, however, saying: “Women are way tougher than men and that’s why we have the babies; you guys could never handle kids. We ladies don’t complain we just do our best. On the WTA we are real performers, we are not about going out there and being weenies.”

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