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Federer, Serena hope to keep clay charm

MADRID -- Roger Federer and Serena Williams took home trophies on Sunday from the Madrid Masters, with the pair of veteran champions hoping to channel their clay success into more glory at Roland Garros.

With the French Open starting in a fortnight, both the Swiss, who put his best tennis on display to beat Tomas Berdych 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, and Williams, who crushed world number one Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-1, 6-3, are confident of their form.

“There are exciting times ahead for me,” said Federer, who will fly to Italy on Monday but will decide only before his opening match on Wednesday whether his body feels fit enough to compete at the Rome Masters.

“I'm winning so many events and playing so well. I believe that I can win the slams.

“I know the difficulty of the French, the focus will be on Novak (Djokovic) who is going for four slams in a row and on Rafa (Nadal) because he's the defending champion.

“It's an exciting event and I'm playing well, let's see how it plays out.”

Williams, who won Roland Garros a decade ago, is also feeling good about her game and has a misconception to correct.

“I love the clay, I have won the French Open,” said the 30-year-old.

“It's a myth about me not liking the clay — I like it more than grass. Hopefully I can start doing better.

“Roland Garros conditions are much different from here. Conditions are different every week on clay. Definitely my goal is to do well in Paris.”

Federer, with 16 Grand Slam titles, will now stand behind Djokovic on Monday on the ATP list after sending Nadal back to third on the rankings with his winning performance on the controversial blue clay laid down at the Caja Magica.

Playing in his first event after six weeks off, the Swiss star surprised even himself.

“It's surprising to come back and win a title right away,” said Federer.

“I was worried about getting through the first round, I was very realistic coming in. I guess I forgot that I had such a great record (now three titles) in Madrid, I was able to draw from that.”

“Confidence started coming back, it didn't take much for me this week. It's been a great scenario, coming off a break and winning.”

The 30-year-old Federer went level with Nadal on 20 career titles at Masters 1000 level, with both men sharing the overall record.

Federer, playing in his 104th ATP final, won his 74th title and fourth of the season.

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Swiss Roger Federer, left, holds his trophy next to U.S. actor Will Smith after winning the final tennis match of the Madrid Masters against Czech Tomas Berdych at the Magic Box (Caja Magica) sports complex in Madrid, Sunday, May 13. Federer won 3-6, 7-5, 7-5. (AFP)

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