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How Rafael Nadal Trumped Roger Federer To Become First-Ever Men’s Player To Record 50 Masters 1000 Semi-Final Appearances

Tanmay Roy

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In the Monte Carlo Masters 2024, Novak Djokovic overtook arch-rival and the ‘King of Clay’, for a world record 77th ATP Masters 1000 semi-final appearance. However, Nadal was the first amongst the ‘Big Three’ comprising of Roger Federer as well, to become the first-ever men’s singles player to make it to 50 ATP Masters 1000 semifinals. Rafael Nadal played his 50th ATP 1000 Masters tournament semi-final in the 2013 Paris Masters.

However, at the 2013 Paris Masters, Nadal’s fellow countryman David Ferrer beat him 6-3, 7-5 in that semi-final. Even then, history was created and quite surprisingly, Rafael Nadal achieved that feat before Roger Federer, who is a few years senior to the Spaniard and has been perceived to be more versatile than him.

Rafael Nadal has been a clay court specialist from the very beginning. Therefore, the majority of his performances leading to wins, final and even semi-final finishes, came at clay court events. Those are the Monte-Carlo Masters, Madrid Masters and Rome Masters respectively.

Nadal’s prowess on clay is such that, despite his injuries in 2003 which cost him 21 ATP 1000 Masters tournaments, he reached 50 semi-finals before Federer. In 2003, he skipped tournaments such as Indian Wells Masters, Miami Open, Rome Masters and the Cincinnati Masters. And in 2004, the Spaniard did not play in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome.

Across all ATP 1000 Masters events, Rafael Nadal has played 37 semi-finals in clay-court tournaments, whereas Roger Federer has played 19 semi-finals. On hard courts, Nadal played 34 semi-finals and Federer played 43 semi-finals; a surface on which Federer trumped Nadal. In indoor hard court tournamenst, Nadal played 5 semi-finals, whereas Federer played only 4. Besides clay, it has been an even contest between the two players.

On the other hand, Roger Federer made his 50th ATP 1000 Masters semi-final appearance in the Monte Carlo Masters 2014. With that match, Federer became the second player after Nadal to achieve the feat. Rather fittingly, the man who he beat in the semi-final was the World No.1 and another of his biggest rivals, Novak Djokovic.

There have been plenty of battles between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in ATP Masters events over the years. They also revived the Monte Carlo Masters, whose popularity was sinking for a while in the mid-2000s. For Nadal, one of his greatest semi-final wins remains at the 2011 Miami Open. Interestingly, he beat Roger Federer, who was still at his peak, especially on outdoor hard courts.

Nadal beat Federer quite convincingly, 6-3, 6-2. For Federer, one of his best semi-final wins was the 2009 Madrid Open, where he beat Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 6-4. In the final, Federer won against Rafael Nadal, a rare feat on clay, by 6-4, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic overtook Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer with time

Rafael Nadal was unstoppable at his peak, winning almost every single tournament he ever reached the finals or semi-finals of. Roger Federer accumulated a laudable 66 semi-final ATP Masters finishes throughout his career. As Djokovic entered his peak in the 2010s, the top 4 finishes slightly lessened for both Federer and Nadal. That was because the Serb was almost booking one of the top 4 spots.

However, with Nadal’s prowess on the clay court and his return to form in 2018-2019, he went past Federer’s 66 semi-final finishes and that number stands at 76 today. However, Novak Djokovic now has the most number of semi-final appearances in ATP Masters events, at 77. This happened recently after he beat Alex de Minaur 7-6, 7-4 in the Monte Carlo Masters 2024 quarterfinals.

When it comes to Novak Djokovic’s 50th ATP 1000 Masters semi-final appearance, it was at the 2015 Shanghai Masters. Interestingly, it was almost 18 months after Federer played his 50th in Monte Carlo. Djokovic defeated Andy Murray, 6-1, 6-3 and eventually won the Shanghai Masters that year.

Post Edited By:Dhruv Rupani

About the author

Tanmay Roy

Tanmay Roy


Tanmay Roy is a Tennis Journalist at The SportsRush, whose lifelong passion and zeal for the sport landed him this position. A writer with over 1000 articles under him, Tanmay fell in love with tennis in 2005 when Roger Federer defeated Andy Roddick in the Wimbledon final after a stunning three sets. Tanmay followed the likes of the Big Three - Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Rafael Nadal from the mid-noughties to now. His interest was stronger than ever after the wonderful 2009 Wimbledon Final which saw Roger Federer win after a see-saw 5-set match. His favorite female tennis player is Serena Williams and Monica Seles. Tanmay's favorite match-up to date is Roger Federer vs Andy Roddick in the 2000s. If possible, the John Isner vs Nicolas Mahut first round match at the 2010 Wimbledon is the only match Tanmay would love to watch Live by going back in time. Of late, he is a huge fan of Jannik Sinner and believes the youngster has the potential to break every record.

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