Nadal bags 5th Madrid Masters

Rafael Nadal's flawless record on clay this season continued as he outgunned the impressive Dominic Thiem to win the Madrid Masters for a fifth time 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 on Sunday.

Nadal withstood a tough challenge from the ninth-ranked Thiem, converting on his fourth match point to earn his 15th straight victory on clay and tie Novak Djokovics record of 30 career titles in Masters 1000 events.

Rafael Nadal recorded a first win over Novak Djokovic in nearly three years to seal a place in the Madrid Open final.

Cuevas also picked up the biggest win of his career by defeating Stan Wawrinka en route to a quarter-final finish in Monte-Carlo.

Rafael Nadal is back to his top claycourt form, while world No. 1 Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are trying to play catch-up.

Early signs weren't good for Thiem after a break between sets as he surrendered his serve at the first time of asking, and despite keeping his enemy stuck to his own baseline at times, the Spanish native spun the fixture in his favour.

On the women's side, Simona Halep of Romania won her second straight Madrid title by defeating Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-7 (5-7), 6-2 in almost three hours, becoming the first player to successfully defend the title since Serena Williams in 2013.

After an imbalanced schedule gave Thiem a late night finish on Saturday, the young Austrian came out firing in his first Masters final and broke Nadal for a 3-1 lead, but lost it due to a combination of bad volleys at net and the Spaniard's all-world defense.

Nadal's tour-leading 32nd victory set up a semifinal against defending champion Novak Djokovic, who advanced when Kei Nishikori withdrew before their match because of a wrist injury. "I wasn't building any points really". Neither player could break again and while the home favourite took the lead in the tie-break, his Austrian opponent briefly staged a comeback before Nadal clinched the set. I played a little bit shorter.

"It's true that some matches are more important than others".

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

Nadal told Television Espanola: "The truth is I was up against an opponent who, in the next five to 10 years, will be fighting for the most important titles, so I'm very happy to have won". In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona I did well, same here. The 31-year-old Uruguayan won four consecutive three-set matches to make the final four.

I suggested in my opening Masters 1000 preview of the season - Indian Wells - that a power shift was looking possible in tennis in 2017. "But, you know, I have lots of good things to take out of this week". "I hope you understand and respect that".

  • Julie Sanders