Another week on the claycourt circuit, another title for Rafael Nadal.
The anointed “King of clay” improved to 15-0 on the dirt this year after Sunday claiming the Mutua Madrid Open title, defeating Dominic Thiem 7-6(8), 6-4 in the championship.
It was a fifth Madrid title for the 30-year-old Spaniard and a 30th career Masters 1000 title, tying Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead. His claycourt haul thus far this season includes Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid, losing only two sets in the process.
“This is a very emotional period of the season,” Nadal said. “I really enjoy these tournaments. I just try to go for all of them. I try to compete. I did well in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and also here. I hope to do the same in Rome.”
Nadal was under the spotlight in the semifinal against Djokovic, who he had lost to three consecutive times on clay, but he mowed past his former No. 1 and rival in straight sets.
The Spaniard improved to 72-35 in career finals, and 3-3 in 2017, with all three losses coming on hardcourts.
The 23-year-old Thiem was contesting his first Masters 1000 final, and fell to 8-5 in career finals and 1-2 this year. He broke early for a 2-1 lead in the first set but could not handle Nadal’s forehand relentlessly pounding his one-handed backhand side.
“How he plays after his serve, it’s unbelievable,” Thiem said. “He hits so many forehands. You’re under pressure after his serve almost every time.”
Nadal with the win will surpass Roger Federer on the ATP Rankings, rising to No. 4, while Thiem moves up to a career-high No. 7.
“I gave everything that I could,” Thiem said. “But it was a final of a Masters 1000, my first one, against the best player on this surface ever. Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well.”
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