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By Chris Oddo | Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Nicolas Almagro, 2014 Barcelona

Nicolas Almagro learned the hard way last week in Barcelona that backing up a win against Rafael Nadal is no small task.

Photo Source: Reuters

Beating the king of clay—on any surface—before the final of an ATP event has been a death wish for many of the ATP's best and brightest over the years. Whether it be the emotional drain of overcoming one of the greatest players currently patrolling a tennis court, or the physical toll exacted during a battle with a warrior like Nadal, a victory over the Spaniard before the final has added up to a loss in the next round for eight of the last nine players to achieve the feat.

Statisfaction: Looking at Maria Sharapova's Clay-Court Dominance

It runs a bit counter-intuitive. One would think that a player who is fresh off a defeat of one of the world's best would be in tip-top form and ready to take on all comers. In other words, that player would be running hot. Turns out it's not the case...

The last player to defeat Nadal before the final in an ATP event to go on to win a title? Roger Federer, Indian Wells, 2012. Here's a look at the last nine people who tried—and failed—to turn a momentous victory over Nadal into a title run. Of the nine, Alexandr Dolgopolov is the only player to win his next match. He defeated Fabio Fognini and Milos Raonic at Indian Wells before falling to Roger Federer in the semifinals.

All but one (Del Potro) of the rest all dropped their next encounter in straight sets, except for Steve Darcis, who couldn't even play another match after taking out Nadal in three grueling sets at Wimbledon.

For comparison's sake, three out of the last four players to defeat Novak Djokovic before the final in an ATP event have gone on to win the title (Federer, 2014 Dubai, Wawrinka, 2014 Australia, Nadal, 2013 U.S. Open).

Of the last 16 players to defeat Roger Federer before the final, three have gone on to win the title (Djokovic, 2013 ATP finals, Nadal, 2013 Cincinnati, Nadal, 2013 Indian Wells), but only one of the remaining 13 (Julien Benneteau, Rotterdam, 2013) went on to win his next match.


Year/ Event/ Round

Score Vs. Nadal

Result/ Opponent/ Score of Next Match

Nicolas Almagro

2014 Barcelona/ Quarterfinal

2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4

Loss, Giraldo, 7-5, 6-3

David Ferrer

2014 Monte-Carlo/ Quarterfinal

7-6(1), 6-4

Loss, Wawrinka, 6-1, 7-6(3)

Alexandr Dolgopolov

2014 Indian Wells/ round-of-32

6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5)

Win, Fognini, 6-2, 6-4, Win, Raonic, 6-3, 6-4, Loss to Federer in Semis

David Ferrer

2013 Paris Masters/ Semifinal

6-3, 7-5

Loss, Novak Djokovic, 7-5, 7-5

Juan Martin del Potro

2013 Shanghai Masters/ Semifinal

6-2, 6-4

Loss, Novak Djokovic, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(3)

Steve Darcis

2013 Wimbledon/ 1st Round

7-6(4), 7-6(8), 6-4

Walkover to Lukasz Kubot

Lukas Rosol

2012 Wimbledon/ 2nd Round

6-7(9), 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4

Loss, Philipp Kohlschreiber, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6(6)

Philipp Kohlschreiber

2012 Halle/ Quarterfinal

6-3, 6-4

Loss, Tommy Haas, 7-6(5), 7-5

Fernando Verdasco

2012 Madrid

6-3, 3-6, 7-5

Loss, Tomas Berdych, 6-1,6-2

Roger Federer

2012 Indian Wells Semifinal

6-3, 6-4

Won Title

*Andy Murray advanced past Rafael Nadal in the semis by virtue of walkover in Miami in 2012. Murray went on to lose the final to Novak Djokovic, 6-1, 7-6(4).


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