Rafael Nadal brings Rafi back beating Dominic Thiem at Madrid Open

Beth Cruz
May 17, 2017

Rafael Nadal was dominant today against Novak Djokovic and progressed to the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid.

The Spaniard, who snapped a seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic to win their semi-final on Saturday, was given a much sterner test by Thiem than in last month's final of the Barcelona Open.

The Spaniard and four-time victor in Madrid got off to a dream start in the 50th meeting between the two great rivals, winning every point in the first game to break Djokovic, with the home crowd wildly celebrating his first point - a potent return which the Serbian could only hit into the ground. The 14-time Grand Slam victor should be heading into the match high on confidence as he had beaten Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in the final of Barcelona only last month, which was also his third win over the world number nine in four meetings on clay. In total, Rafael managed to play 38 games and won 33 victories in this successful season for himself.

"It was time for me to win, it has been a long time before I even won a set against Djokovic", said Nadal after his victory.

Thiem also fell victim to Nadal's supreme form in the final in Barcelona two weeks ago, but there was little for the 23-year-old to be dispirited about as he pushed Nadal all the way in his first Masters series final.

"Physically I'm feeling fit", he said, when he was asked if he was struggling to walk after the final. If I'm at my best and he's at his best on clay, he's probably the better player. "Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well".

The Austrian had his chance too to get right back in the match with four break back points, but couldn't take advantage as Nadal finally secured victory with his fourth match point. These tournaments are so strong, so it's wonderful for me to go that far.

"I'm just going to go along, and in the next three, four weeks maximum, I'll make my decisions around that, about the team", Djokovic said. "But, you know, I have lots of good things to take out of this week". With 14 Grand Slam titles, Nadal is tied second on the all-time list behind Roger Federer (18).

But, having appeared to quickly settle into the groove in his maiden ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, the world number 27 produced some loose shots in the fifth game that cost him a decisive break.

Rafael Nadal is near his best again, and he showed it with an emphatic win over a rival he hadn't beaten in three years.

First, though, Nadal will be entirely focused on Madrid, but he will certainly be the favourite against either No8 Dominic Thiem or the unseeded Pablo Cuevas-though each has claimed a clay win over Nadal in the past. "It means the world to me to make it to another final here in Madrid".

"I gave everything that I could", Thiem said.

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