Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Ellis Neal

Nadal Stays Perfect During Claycourt Season, Beating Thiem in ATP Madrid Final

Nadal Stays Perfect During Claycourt Season, Beating Thiem in ATP Madrid Final

Dominic Thiem lost to Rafael Nadal for the second time in a row after the Barcelona final, also this time in straight sets, but the match was more balanced in Madrid.

Nadal tied Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead in Masters 1000 titles with 30.

Appearing in his eighth Madrid Open final-also a record high in the competition-the home favourite sailed to victory despite Thiem's best efforts to keep Nadal caged on his favoured clay surface.

The King of Clay beat his possible successor, 23-year-old Dominic Thiem, 7-6 (8), 6-4, in a splendid and enthralling, if imperfect, final in La Caja Magica.

"How he plays after his serve, it's unbelievable", Thiem said afterward.

After Thiem rifled a few winners to save 0-40 at 4-5 (the same game in which his chances spiraled two weeks back in their Barcelona final), a brilliant tiebreaker saw both players saving set points, with Nadal's consistency eventually winning out when Thiem misfired twice to lose a 10-8 thriller.

Thiem drew first blood with a break for 2-1, but Nadal, using the drop shot often to take advantage of Thiem's court depth, broke back for 3-3. Thiem again responded with a fierce battle with Nadal serving for the match but Nadal finally put him away with a forehead victor to end the 2-hour, 18-minute match. "I don't think it changes a lot for me".

"The truth is I was up against an opponent who, in the next five to 10 years, will be fighting for the most important titles, so I'm very happy to have won, ” Nadal said".

Four-time champion Nadal rediscovered his ruthless streak and ended a three-year, seven-match losing streak against Djokovic to progress to the final two.

"I think it was a tough match since the beginning, especially here in altitude, which is hard to make breaks against a player like Thiem". The clear favorite for Roland Garros and having accomplished all of his immediate goals, the question now becomes if Nadal, at nearly 31, even plays Rome or elects to rest. The only player who could maybe put up a good fight right now is Roger Federer since he's played so well this year. Then he will try to win his 10th title at Roland Garros, where he captured his last Grand Slam title three years ago. "I did well in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and also here". If Nadal were to prevail in the Italian Open next week, he will set a new record with 31 ATP Masters 1000 titles.

"This is a very emotional period of the season", Nadal told reporters. I think what is logical is to go to Rome, try to give 100 per cent.

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