Ready? Set? Go!: Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal in Madrid

Michael LanichCorrespondent IMay 15, 2010

It's the showdown everyone has been waiting for.  It's been almost exactly one year since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal met one another at the net to shake hands.  One was a winner.  The other a loser.

It was here in Madrid just weeks before the world would be shocked by Rafa's fourth round exit in Paris.  It was just a few weeks before the world new that not only was Nadal injured, but exactly how badly he was and had been in pain leading up to Roland Garros.

To say that Nadal's injuries were the reason that Roger won that day would not only be insulting to Roger, it would also make the win look significantly less amazing, and Nadal a lame duck.

Was Nadal injured and in pain during the final?  Probably, but then again so are many on tour.  Countless realize how many players make it to and win finals with aches and pains that would sideline most of us in a heartbeat, let alone go out there and attempt to legitimately win the match.

But enough about last year.  This is a whole new year.

By the looks of it, Rafa is perfectly healthy and has been tearing up the clay season as usual.  He's also taken some time off to keep himself fresh and injury free as possible. His form has been mostly breathtaking throughout a season in which he has lost serve only five times and lost only two sets in thirteen total matches on clay.

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Roger on the other hand has been struggling with his health, his form, and his overall game since his Australian Open win earlier in the year.  In fact this is the first tournament since then in which he has made it past the quarterfinals.

At this moment, Nadal is leading the H2H against Roger 13-7 and tomorrow will either see Nadal pad that astonishing statistic, or Roger pull a little bit closer to .500.

Regardless of the outcome though, everyone should appreciate another meeting between tennis's most storied rivalry.  If we are lucky, we might just have a chance to see another thriller full of ridiculous shot-making.

But who will win?  Could it be Roger going for his 17th Master's title and another confidence-building win against his greatest rival? 

Or will it be Rafa regaining the edge against Roger going into Paris and breaking Agassi's mark of 17 Master's series titles?

My Prediction?  Rafael Nadal defeats Roger Federer in three sets.  You don't bet against the house on this one.


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