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.
“I knew I was playing well in the first set but I just couldn’t take my chances”.
“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.
Nadal is now on an unbeaten run of 14 matches and is looking to win his fifth title here at Madrid while Thiem is looking to win his second title of the year.
Dominic Thiem set up a Madrid Open final showdown with Rafael Nadal as the Austrian ended the charge of Pablo Cuevas. The 2017 Monte Carlo Masters was his first title victory since April 2016 when he beat Kei Nishikori in the finals at Barcelona.
These last few weeks have been very special. To break that means there are always nerves.
Nadal confirmed his return to form with a long-awaited win over Djokovic, his 24th in 50 career meetings.
The first set saw Thiem try and adopt an attacking attitude against Nadal, who had only recently defeated him in Barcelona.
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. 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.
In the tie-break, Thiem continued to challenge the “King of Clay”, erasing set points four and five before Nadal claimed one of the best sets of the year when Thiem sailed a forehand long. “I will try to improve the things I didn’t do that good in Barcelona and then we will see what happens”.
Thiem, who won the Rio de Janeiro title in February, lost the Barcelona Open final to Nadal last month.
It was a good fight out there.
Nadal held his serve to love in the ensuing game to move ahead at 6-5, and Thiem drove on to the tiebreak despite his opponent’s best efforts to avoid any need with a last-ditch break attempt. I could have played better today.
Nadal has a tour-leading 34 victories in what has been a superb season following lean years for the 14-time Grand Slam champion. Nadal also was upset by Sam Querrey in the Mexican Open final in Acapulco.
The 23-year-old Thiem earned two break points which Nadal saved to move within a point of the title.
A finalist in Madrid in 2014, Nishikori lost his last 10 matches against Djokovic, including in the semifinals in Madrid a year ago.
Rafael Nadal’s French Open credentials were boosted further when he claimed a record-equalling 30th ATP 1000 title at the Madrid Open on Sunday. His other titles came in 2005, 2010 and 2013.
“Ninety-nine percent of players would accept to have the type of slump Djokovic has had”, Nadal said. I really enjoy these tournaments. He also beat Thiem in the Barcelona title match.