MADRID - Roger Federer left a lasting impression on the Madrid Open's controversial blue claycourt when the Swiss maestro ground out a thrilling 3-6 7-5 7-5 victory over Czech Tomas Berdych to match Rafa Nadal's record of 20 Masters titles on Sunday.
Spaniard Nadal, who crashed out in the third round and will lose his number two ranking to his great rival, was one of the most vocal opponents of the new surface, which he said was dangerously slippery.
Federer, however, proved better able to adapt to the testing conditions and secured his fourth title of the season, and the 74th of his illustrious career, after edging a gripping final at the futuristic Magic Box arena.
"It feels amazing," Federer told spectators sweltering in the Madrid heat inside the Manolo Santana show court as his wife and twin daughters looked on.
"Look, it's been a tough tournament and tough to move but you just go on with it and try to make the best out of it," added the 30-year-old.
"There was some good tennis and there was some bad tennis as well, you see that in all the tournaments, but I thought the level of play under the circumstances was very good."
Federer came into the event following a six-week rest and is looking in ominous form as the world's top players prepare for the French Open starting in Paris later this month.
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