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Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal lifts title to match Novak Djokovic's record
May 30 2017, 07:20 | Van Peters
Despite being in his home country, Madrid is well-known for being Nadal's "least" successful spring clay event, but he has now achieved four titles, three finals and one semifinal on red clay there, along with an early loss in 2012 when the event made an ill-fated experiment with blue clay.
In the final of the men's Mutua Madrid Open, 23-year-old Austrian Dominic Tim will compete for the title with 30-year-old Spaniard Rafael Nadal.
Nadal has a tour-leading 34 victories in what has been a superb season following some lean years for the 14-time Grand Slam champion.
Djokovic won the last meeting between the pair in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters exactly a year ago, and Nadal had not beaten the 12-time grand slam victor since the 2014 French Open final.
Seven wins over top 10 players this season are his most before Rome since 2011.
The left-hander hardly could have asked for a better week in Madrid. The vanquished Thiem - also runner-up to Nadal in Barcelona - has very strong 2017 clay data himself, showing a huge improvement to 2016, and should he continue this progress, looks likely to be a major threat again.
Nadal disposed of Novak Djokovic for his first win over the Serb for three years on Saturday and victory saw him level Djokovic's record of 30 Masters Series titles.
But the Spaniard, buoyed by his belief and eager to avoid a third set, would earn two more championship points, converting the fourth with a backhand volley victor.
Rafael Nadal is back to his top claycourt form, while world No. 1 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are trying to play catch-up. The champions have claimed 60 of the past 65 Masters 1000 crowns, dating back to 2010 Monte-Carlo.
Therefore, quite incredibly, Nadal has made the final in eight of the last 10 years in Rome, and Djokovic, six.
A buoyant Nadal then moved ahead early in the second and despite Thiem's best efforts he could not force a way back into the final. He lost to Goffin in the quarterfinals in Monte Carlo, his first clay tournament of the season. But Nadal found his way into the contest and levelled the first set at 3-3. "He hits so many forehands". And with the Austrian feet behind the baseline after consecutive backhands, Nadal would tap a drop shot victor inside the service box. But I think I played well the important points at the end of the first set.
Nadal was brutal coming in to the second set, breaking straight away, and denying Thiem a chance to try and break back immediately, from that point on no quarter was given until Nadal pushed and pressed fir a break to finish with Thiem saving two match points in the process. Winners ended almost half of the points in the 18-point tie-break.
"It was a very exciting game".
Bet: the victory of Rafael Nadal with a -4 for the game.