Federer, Nadal differ on French Open importance

By Iain Rogers

MADRID (Reuters) - Roger Federer shrugged off his Madrid Open final defeat by Rafa Nadal as irrelevant, saying his claycourt season would be defined by his run at the French Open. Unsurprisingly, his victorious rival begged to differ.

"Rafa's and my clay court seasons are decided at the French Open, and not before," the 28-year-old Federer said.

"It's unfortunately -- or fortunately -- like that. If we win all the tournaments like Rafa now and then go out in the first round of the French, everything will be questioned."

"Well, that's a respectable opinion that I don't share," the Spaniard said defeating the Swiss 6-4 7-6.

"And not because I have won the three (Masters) leading up to it, which some might think, but because I think it is unfair to think the whole clay season is decided by one tournament."

"I think under the circumstances I played well today but he comes up with some incredible stuff," the 16-times grand slam winner said.

"He's Rafa Nadal after all and he's playing with huge confidence and an incredible game from the baseline and it's never easy to penetrate through that."

Injured knees wrecked Nadal's year and he failed in his bid for a fifth straight French Open crown when he was upset in the fourth round by Swede Robin Soderling.

(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)