Nadal beats Thiem in Madrid, wins 3rd straight title

Rafael Nadal recorded a first win over Novak Djokovic in nearly three years to seal a place in the Madrid Open final.

The 23-year-old Thiem was playing in his first Masters 1000 final, but the Austrian hardly looked intimidated against Nadal, who was backed by a friendly Spanish crowd.

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.

Nadal then broke immediately at the start of the second set and the games went with serve until the ninth game when Nadal had two Championship points on Thiem's serve. 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. "Hopefully I can do that with my team and play better in Rome and Roland Garros".

"I could have played better", Djokovic said.

Second-ranked Djokovic has also struggled this season, but stayed alive in Madrid with the two-set victory over Lopez.

However finally Djokovic found a groove with his serve, held to love, and then swung a couple of fine backhand down-the-line shots and a return-of-serve victor for deuce against Nadal.

"Well, Rafa was obviously a better player today".




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.

Ronaldo could be seen smiling with joy as Nadal closed out the final set and booking his place in the latter stage of the tournament.

"This drop in level for Djokovic has to do with his fight to be No. 1 and to win as many matches as possible", Nadal said.

Given his form, I think he can go close and will back him each way to small stakes.

The pair stayed neck and neck until Thiem lost his nerve and made two unforced errors in a row, gifting Nadal the set. "I'm very happy at the moment", said Thiem.

Despite the loss, Cuevas can be pleased with reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final.

It was Nadal's fifth title in eighth Madrid Open finals, and the first since 2014. He also beat Thiem in the Barcelona title match. The 31-year-old Uruguayan won four consecutive three-set matches to make the final four.

"This is a very emotional period of the season". "I started the match OK, but when I started to go behind I didn't find any way to improve my game or to make it more hard for him. I hope to do the same in Rome". The 2017 Monte Carlo Masters was his first title victory since April. 2016 when he beat Kei Nishikori in the finals at Barcelona.

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