Thiem puts Nadal revenge in his sights

Rufina Vignone
Mag 19, 2017

"To try to win Roland Garros, you don't need to be No. 4 or No. 1 or No. 5, what you need is to play tennis very well", Nadal said. In recent years, against such opponents, it has been rare to see the Serb make 24 errors in the space of 18 games.

"I think he played a very good match in Barcelona".

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after the men's final against Austria's Dominic Thiem at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 14, 2017.

Defending champion Djokovic, who broke with long-time coach Marian Vajda and his staff the week before the tournament in a bid to reverse his downward trajectory of results in the previous year, surrendered his serve again in the third game, and Nadal held to go 4-0 up. "It's going to mean to me a lot", Coric said.

Both players created two set points apiece during the breaker, but Nadal crucially took the second of his to claim it 10-8 and win the opening set. The Austrian had broken early to take a 2-1 lead in the set, but Nadal would break back to level proceeding at 3-3. 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.

"Things are working out, and I'm very happy for that", he said after his two-hour and 17-minute tussle with a powerful and energetic Thiem. "After that I went for it".

"I am convinced that Thiem will be a candidate to win big tournaments in the following years".

It was the first title of the season for the eighth-ranked Halep, who was the first player to make it to three Madrid finals.

"It was a good fight out there".

"All in all, I did try my best".

We saw a poor performance from Djokovic, and Nadal who is looking absolutely magnificent on clay this season, used this situation and immediately imposed his style of play.

And the 14-time Grand Slam champion is now strong favourite to add a 10th French Open crown next month as he romped to victory on home soil for the loss of just one set all week. It has been clear what each of his two previous La Decima wins meant to him, and this was no different, as he sank to his knees on that final victor.

However, a year on from a triumph that suggested he had finally mastered the toughest surface of them all, the 29-year-old is back to square one after a humiliating exit at the hands of unseeded 20-year-old Croat Borna Coric at the Madrid Masters last week.

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.

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