Rafael Nadal beats Novak Djokovic in straight sets to reach Madrid final

Rachel Hardy
May 17, 2017

Rafael Nadal wins his fifth Madrid Open title with a straight-sets but hard-fought victory over Dominic Thiem.

Rafael Nadal of Spain scored an emphatic 6-2, 6-4 victory over defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open final on Saturday in Madrid, Spain.

'It were unbelievable two weeks in Spain: Barcelona and Madrid.

"It is a great result", said Nadal.

"It will be a very hard match against one of the best sportsmen this sport has ever had, and to have a chance I'll have to be at my very best", Nadal said.

Djokovic hasn't made the semi-final of any of the top-tier tournaments this season either, after winning Qatar Open before the Australian Open. Basically I couldn't do the rebreak until the end of the match. "To break that means there are always nerves", added Nadal.

"The circumstances nowadays are completely different compared to those seven matches that occurred before".

Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic are both seeded higher than Goffin in the top half but their big serves were better suited for Madrid and I'll happily back the retrieving skills of the Belgian ahead of those two in these conditions. Never had they taken so long for a rematch, but then it had been at Roland Garros past year that their paths took such contrasting directions.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion is the overwhelming favourite heading into this year's French Open (May 22-June 11).

However, that run was emphatically ended as Nadal, willed on by a fervent home support including Cristiano Ronaldo in the VIP boxes, made the flawless start by breaking the Djokovic serve to love.

"How he plays after his serve, it's unbelievable", Thiem said.

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That felt like a critical moment and Nadal went on to break in the first game of the second set, before backing it up by holding for 2-0 after a lengthy game. I was getting a lot of balls back.

"His quality was very high".

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

The Madrid Open was Djokovic's first tournament since he parted ways with longtime coach Marian Vajda and two other team members to try to regain his "winning spark on the court".

Playing his first-ever Masters 1000 final, the Austrian never looked fazed by the occasion and despite being broken in the first game of the second set, continued to fight till the end.

Nadal had to stave off a break point on his own serve to consolidate the break for 2-0.

Again Djokovic's level improved as the set wore on to make Nadal serve it out.

"I got a break in the first game", Thiem said, as quoted on TennisWorldUSA. "It shows you you're working in the right way", said Nadal, who has thrived after struggling with his game for two years.

Djokovic, though, fired long with a volley on Nadal's third match point sparking wild scenes of celebration.

But the return to contention of Federer and Nadal is also probably what has pushed Djokovic to make the changes needed to overcome the latest challenge in his career.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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