The best-of-five Masters 1000 finals are no longer used; the last time one occurred was in Miami in 2007. The dramatic match between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in Rome in 2006 essentially put an end to the best-of-five finals because the adversaries were unable to recover in time for the following week’s obligations.
Rafa recalled his outstanding triumphs at Foro Italico in 2005 and 2006 over Guillermo Coria and Roger Federer, noting that both matches lasted for more than five hours. Both he and his opponent expended too much energy, unable to recover in time to compete in the Hamburg competition the following week.
The best-of-five Masters 1000 finals were effectively killed off with that magnificent title match from 2006, which many people consider to be the best of all time. Nadal defeated Federer 6-7(0), 7-6(5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(5), and successfully defended his Rome title in five hours and five minutes. Both players gave it their all during the contest.
At the age of 19, the Spaniard was already among the best clay-court players. But after pushed Rafa to his limits in Monte Carlo a month earlier, Roger came into this final with an optimistic attitude. The Swiss felt prepared to launch another fierce challenge in Rome and contend for the championship he was still seeking.
Rafa’s pace was matched by Roger, who had a great opportunity to win the match. In the crucial tie break, he blew a 4-1 lead in the final set and two match points on the return in the 12th game! Nadal, as usual, did not give up and overcame all challenges to win one of the most significant matches of his career and claim his sixth Masters 1000 crown.
In Rome in 2006, Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer in greater than five hours.
Nadal‘s 53rd consecutive victory on clay tied Guillermo Vilas’ record set during the Open era. Additionally, he won the ATP Finals for the 13th time in a row, dating back to an incredible title battle versus Roger in Miami a year earlier.
Rome marked Nadal‘s 16th and final ATP title while still a teenager, placing him alongside Bjorn Borg at the top of the list of records. To stay competitive, Roger saved six of nine break opportunities, won five more points than Rafa, and did practically everything correctly. He also successfully defended the second serve.
The Swiss, who won a remarkable 64 out of 84 points at the net, was in an aggressive mode, taking advantage of every chance to force his forehand and disrupt Nadal‘s rhythm with relentless net rushes. The world number one had a little lead in the shorter points and followed Nadal‘s statistics in the longer rallies, but his forehand let him down in the match’s closing moments, causing him to lose.
Rafa never gave up and managed to strain Roger’s backhand in the decisive set to turn the match around. A kid managed to achieve one of his most precious victories by remaining focused when confronting those match points.
“If I’m not mistaken, in 2007 we switched the Masters 1000 finals from a best-of-five format to a best-of-three format. In 2005 and 2006, I was forced to play two grueling finals in Rome against Guillermo Coria and Roger Federer, and I was unable to play in Hamburg the next week.
It makes sense to have the best-of-three finals when there are consecutive Masters 1000 finals, which is why we modified it. However, since we get a day off and the Majors are an important part of our history, I’m vehemently opposed to that “said Rafael Nadal.