How bizarre! First came the breathtaking mile high tennis court with Andre Agassi, and now tennis star Roger Federer dukes it out with French Open champion Rafael Nadal on an experimental exhibition part clay part grass tennis court costing $1.63 million to set up(damn…give me $5000, and I’ll make that happen and pocket the rest). I’ve always been a fan of half&half pizza, drinks, hybrid cars, tools, payments, etc, but I never thought I’d see this happen. It would be interesting to see this again with the split happening horizontally (each player with both floors). Maybe a dangerous oncrete, clay, grass court is next.
Updated: May 1, 2007, 3:12 PM ET
Federer to face off with Nadal on customized court
PALMA DE MALLORCA, Balearic Islands — One is the king of grass, the other the king of clay. On Wednesday, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal will be king of both.
Four-time Wimbledon champion Federer plays two-time French Open winner Nadal in an exhibition on a customized half-clay, half-grass court on this Spanish island.
“It’ll be fun to find out what it’s like to play on a court with mixed surfaces,” Federer said Tuesday. “And it ought to be interesting to see who chooses the better tactic.”
Organizers needed 19 days and $1.63 million to create the court, which divides the surfaces by halves for a unique match in which a player can receive on clay and hit a winner on grass — or vice versa.
“The result is not the most important thing. It’s about having fun out there,” the top-ranked Federer 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.”
A sellout crowd of nearly 7,000 is expected at the Palma Arena for the match, which is backed by the Balearic Islands tourism bureau.
Nadal comes from Mallorca and has the homecourt advantage.
“I like the fact that the stadium is located in Mallorca, Rafa’s home,” Federer said. “He has been to Basel [Switzerland] after all, and now I’ve got the opportunity to play at his place for once.”
Federer hasn’t lost on grass in four years, a 48-match run that includes four straight titles at Wimbledon.
The second-ranked Nadal has won a record 72 straight clay-court matches, including two consecutive titles at Roland Garros in Paris.
Nadal holds a 7-3 career edge against Federer. He beat the Swiss star 6-4, 6-4 in the Monte Carlo final on April 22 to extend his clay court record against Federer to 5-0.
On grass, Federer leads 1-0, having beaten Nadal in four sets in the Wimbledon final last year.
Federer has 10 Grand Slam titles, but still needs to win the French Open to complete a career Grand Slam of all four championships.
Federer finally loses on grass…sort of
PALMA DE MALLORCA, Balearic Islands (AP) – In the end, Roger Federer’s favourite surface cost him on Wednesday.
Two-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal beat Federer 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (10) in an exhibition match on a half-grass, half-clay court when Federer couldn’t reach Nadal’s forehand as it took an awkward bounce across the green side of the court. “The ball bounced badly and it cost both of us,” Federer said.
The four-time Wimbledon champion was leading 4-1 in the tiebreak before Nadal rallied. After the Spaniard double-faulted while leading 6-5, the world’s two best players traded match points before Nadal hit three of the final four winners from the clay side in front of a sellout crowd of about 7,000.
“We’re used to playing long, hard games with a lot of tension involved,” Federer said. “So it’s fun to play on this half-grass, half-clay surface.”
Nadal came into the match with a record 72 straight wins on clay, while Federer hasn’t lost on grass in four years – a 48-match run that includes four straight Wimbledon titles.
The grass caused some awkward bounces, especially as the match progressed. But both players showed little difficulty in switching surfaces, as they changed shoes at changeovers.
Aside from holding the homecourt advantage, Nadal may have held a slight edge on the clay surface after the grounds crew was forced on Wednesday morning to rip up and re-lay the grass court, which required US$1.63 million and 19 days to prepare.
Nadal, serving from clay to start, won the first point of the match after a rally of groundstrokes ended with Federer hitting his forehand into the net. Another Federer shot into the net, a backhand, gave the Spaniard the first game.
Nadal broke first in the fourth game on grass then watched Federer net a forehand as the Spaniard held from the clay for a 4-1 lead.
Federer shook off early errors and found his rhythm, rallying to 4-4 after a break of his own, before Nadal lashed a crosscourt forehand winner for a 5-4 advantage before breaking Federer again in the 12th game for the set.
Federer bounced back in the second, breaking Nadal on his second try from the green side. Federer’s one break while returning on grass was enough for the 10-time Grand Slam champion to prevail in the second.
After the players split the first two sets, the jokes dissipated as both players went for the win, with Nadal displaying his trademark fist-pump for the first time after Federer’s forehand landed long on the clay for a 4-3 lead.
Both players held serve to force the tiebreaker, with Nadal dominating the baseline and Federer the net.
“It was a long match, with many changes of pace and with little time to adapt,” Nadal said. “My feet are suffering as a price of having to adapt to the grass.”
Despite the exhibition match holding the intensity of a final, both players were keen to repeat next year.
“It was a fun way to pass 2 1/2 hours,” Nadal said.
Nadal, who has won three straight titles at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, held a 4-0 lead over Federer on clay. Federer is 1-0 against the Spaniard on grass.
Nadal leads the series with Federer 7-3.