Nadal edges out Thiem for fifth Madrid Masters

Erica Murray
May 15, 2017

RAFAEL NADAL reached mesmeric heights as won a gruelling Madrid Open final.

Nadal ended his seven-match winless streak against Novak Djokovic with a 6-2, 6-4 win that put him in the Madrid Open final again on Saturday.

It was Nadal's second straight win against the 23-year-old Austrian, coming two weeks after the Barcelona Open final when the Spaniard cruised to victory in straight sets.

"It was really good to play in the semifinals of a big event, and to play against one of the top rivals I have in my life", Djokovic said. 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.

The Spaniard established early superiority in the second set, breaking Thiem in the opening game to eventually improve his record to 3-1 over the upcoming Austrian. Yet revenge was never far away and once Nadal broke back to level at 3-3 there was a feeling of inevitability as Nadal looked solid in his games. At the end of last year's season, was he expecting to be where is he right now? 'Normally, I don't expect anything.

But Halep, who is also into the semi-finals of the women's doubles with compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, showed no signs of lacking in energy as she bounced back in emphatic fashion to win the last six games for the loss of just 14 points. Tim had four break points, but Nadal came out of a hard situation and ended the match in their favor. I played well also.

Nadal did not face the toughest competition in Monte-Carlo but has since answered any questions with two victories over Thiem, a second win over a more-rested David Goffin, and his first time beating Djokovic in three years.

Ivan Lendl makes an unlikely superhero but next Sunday he will don his cape and mask and sweep into Europe in a bid to salvage Andy Murray's clay court season.

Nadal has a tour-leading 34 victories in what has been a superb season following lean years for the 14-time Grand Slam champion.

"I'm in another final, it means a lot to me". I lost a lot of times in a row.

"Against Thiem in Barcelona, I was disappointed to lose, but I felt like I competed really well", Murray said. The 2017 Monte Carlo Masters was his first title victory since April. 2016 when he beat Kei Nishikori in the finals at Barcelona.

"It was a final of a Masters 1000, my first one, against the best player on this surface ever".

Murray worked with Lendl during all three of his Grand Slam triumphs and hopes that with the Czech and Jamie Delgado as his coaching team, he can get back to his best going to Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Britain's Dan Evans fell to a straight-sets defeat by Jiri Vesely in the first round of the Italian Open.

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