On May 2nd 2007, an exhibition match called ‘the battle of the surfaces’ took place in Palma de Mallorca in front of around 7,000 spectators on a half clay and half grass court. Novak Djokovic recalled this at a press conference when asked who was the better tennis player between Federer and Nadal: “one of the most beautiful things I saw in tennis was a match between Roger and Rafa on a court that was half clay and half grass. Whoever thought of that was a genius! As a tennis fan, I enjoyed it. Back to the question of who is the best…. You have the answer!” So spoke Novak Djokovic at the 2021 US Open.
Rafael Nadal, the Mallorquin host, had won seven of his last 10 matches against the Swiss, the last of which was in the final of the Monte Carlo tournament, confirming himself as the true nightmare of the Basel champion.
The spectacle was rather complex from a logistical point of view, so much so that at one point there was even a risk of cancelling the hybrid court set-up, as the turf, specially transported from Wimbledon, dried out due to the heat. In any case, the organisers did not give up and hastily put together a team to replace the dry grass with cooler grass from the nearby golf course. In 19 days, for the ‘modest’ sum of $1.63 million, the course was set up. There was no lack of enthusiasm of the public nor of spectacle on the court at the majestic ‘battle of the surfaces’, despite the obvious difficulties the players faced in adapting to the double surface. Each time they switched sides of the court, Nadal and Federer were forced to change shoes, as well as of course trying to adapt to the different, and in some cases unpredictable, bounces of the ball. Once again, in the match between the tennis titans, Rafael Nadal won with a score of 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 (12-10). The intense tie-breaker between the two was emblematic of the pyrotechnic match and made it a day to remember for all.
Many were the sponsors of this event, among them was Rolex. Their presence at the battle fortified their brand as one of protagonists in the world of tennis, as well as highlighting the luxury of the event. The battle of the surfaces was also an important marketing and sponsorship event for Nike. The brand dresses both athletes and, in such, aims to push their brand forward even more. Fair to say that the increase in quantity of tennis outfits sold after this game was unmatched by any other event on the tennis scene.