Sports

Rafael Nadal lifts title to match Novak Djokovic's record — Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal lifts title to match Novak Djokovic's record — Madrid Open

After Thiem rifled a few winners to save 0-40 at 4-5 (the same game in which his chances spiraled two weeks back in their Barcelona final), a brilliant tiebreaker saw both players saving set points, with Nadal's consistency eventually winning out when Thiem misfired twice to lose a 10-8 thriller.

He continued his resurgence in the next game and forced four break-back opportunities but Nadal, not renowned as a huge server, came up with some big ones when it mattered.

Neither player would break again in the first set, though. The pair exchanged breaks at the start before Nadal took an early lead.

The disappointing straight-set loss to Nadal was his fifth defeat this year. If he was going down, he would be going down with a fight.

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates scoring a point in the final of the Madrid Open tennis tournament against Austria's Dominic Thiem in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, May 14, 2017. It's a very important clay tournament.

Thiem felt it was an improvement from Barcelona, but it was still cold comfort as his chances had dwindled in the second set.

"I think today the decision is completely different, the situation is different". A year ago he was 31-2 after winning the title in Madrid, which was his fifth of the season at the time. He was defending it well. But in December or January, I was not expecting to play badly, because I knew I was doing a very good off-season. I think I already had worse weeks in my life than this one. The 23-year-old Austrian had gone 0-4 in his previous Masters 1000 quarter-finals prior to this week, but broke the streak on Friday against lucky loser and #NextGenATP Croatian Borna Coric. That's the thing in tennis: "there's only one victor".

Along with Nadal, Federer's masterful return has further heightened the challenge for Djokovic, especially heading into Wimbledon. "I felt like I was playing well throughout the week". Returning the ball is hard, especially when he hits it so high.

"I feel great. It means a lot to play my first final at this level". After that I went for it.”.

"After that, I calmed down". "I was much, much better and much closer than in Barcelona".

Vesely, from the Czech Republic, needed only one hour and 16 minutes to run out a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 victor and bridge a gap of five places in the world rankings. I had to play well in the second set. If I don't go to Italy, it doesn't guarantee that I will be better shape in Roland Garros. I see myself being able to win important titles and achieve my goals. That number does not include me and the Swiss should be taken on again. "I'll try to be 100 per cent and ready for tomorrow's match". "It shows you you're working in the right way".

"This is a very emotional period of the season", Nadal told reporters.

Nishikori, who beat Djokovic in the 2014 U.S. Open semifinals, was playing in his first tournament since March. They said I could go to Rome.


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