Nadal sets up Djokovic showdown in Madrid

Solenn Plantier
Mai 19, 2017

Nadal overpowered Djokovic, and converted on his third match point to earn his first victory against the second-ranked Serb since the 2014 French Open final.

He saved three match-points before Nadal's sliced backhand down the line beat him, prompting the partisan crowd to roar in unison as they celebrated the 'King of Clay's latest triumph.

Rafael Nadal was made to work hard before claiming his fifth Mutua Madrid Open title with victory over Austria's Dominic Thiem in Sunday's final.

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

"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.

Both players had their chances in the tie-break at the end of an hour-long first set, but eventually it was Nadal who prevailed with his fifth set point when Thiem fired long.

In the Women's Madrid Open, defending champion Simona Halep cruised back into the final for the third time in four years with a 6-2, 6-3 success over Latvia's Anastasija Sevastova.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia looks down as he reacts to playing a bad shot and losing a point against Rafael Nadal of Spain during their mens semifinal tennis match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Sat. "I really enjoy these tournaments", Nadal said. Fortunately I managed to come back and break...

Rafael Nadal is now on his customary clay cruise this time of the year, something we did not witness over the past couple of seasons. Basically I couldn't do the rebreak until the end of the match.

There were few other sniffs for either player on serve from there, but when the opportunity arose for Thiem in game nine he did not pass up the opportunity.

"There's no blame on anyone, it's down to me", Murray said after an error-strewn performance against Coric.

I suggested in my opening Masters 1000 preview of the season - Indian Wells - that a power shift was looking possible in tennis in 2017.

The win has many implications for Nadal, who is now a tour-best 34-5 on the year.

At the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, Britain's Dan Evans fell to a straight sets-defeat to Jiri Vesely in the first round.

"I know Novak has made some changes in his coaching staff and I am sure he is a rival who is going to battle for all of the major titles in the future", he added. If Djokovic has defeated Nadal, it might give him the edge heading into Rome and Paris, considering Rafa hasn't beaten him for three years. I did well in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and also here. "Hopefully I'll have another good result in Rome".

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