Why Federer can win a fourth Madrid Masters

Roger Federer is the defending champion at this year's Madrid Masters but having had six weeks off while his rivals have been competing in Miami and Monte Carlo, will he be off the pace? We suspect not.

Federer will be enjoying plenty of positive vibes as he arrives in Madrid this year despite the fact that the infamous blue clay is now long gone. Twelve months ago, the Swiss swept to victory while the pre-tournament favourites tumbled all around him, complaining about the slippy surface. Federer's success sparked a run of form which saw him win a seventh Wimbledon title and reclaim the world number one ranking. And it's worth noting that he always plays best at tournaments where he holds good memories as we can see from his phenomenal record in Cincinnati over the years.

Plus, Federer is one of those players who doesn't need plenty of matches in order to produce his best tennis. He turned up at the Australian Open after no warm-up events and still made the semi-finals. During Indian Wells, he told the media that he needed time off to work on his game and get refreshed ahead of his tilt at a second Roland Garros title next month. Expect him to return rejuvenated and perhaps with some new tactics in his armoury. He knows he needs to change things as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have enjoyed the edge against him over the past six months.

Of all the clay-court tournaments, Federer prefers competing in Madrid to say Rome and even Monte Carlo because the balls tend to fly through the air a little faster and the court is bouncier which gives the more attacking players a bit of an advantage. Plus he'll be enjoying coming in under the radar.

Roger Federer during his quarter final match against Rafael Nadal

Mar 14, 2013; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Roger Federer (SUI) during his quarter final match against Rafael Nadal (ESP) at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Photo Credit Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports.

Many have been writing Federer off once again, believing that he can no longer compete against Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray at their best. And since Rafa Nadal has returned to the tour, he's largely been forgotten. However while Federer may not have the consistency to beat Djokovic, Murray and Nadal week in, week out, on his day he's still more than a match for them. Just remember how no one really gave Federer much of a chance before his Wimbledon semi-final with Djokovic last summer.

And these days, Federer has more of a chance of winning big titles on the natural surfaces as Djokovic and Murray are so solid on hard courts that it's tough for him to upset their hitting rhythm. However on clay, it's easier for him to manoeuvre them around and mix things up. It's telling that aside from Wimbledon, Federer's only Grand Slam final appearance since 2010 has come at the French Open.     

Written by David Cox from Live-Tennis.com

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