Nadal continues clay dominance

Despite being in his home country, Madrid is well-known for being Nadal's "least" successful spring clay event, but he has now achieved four titles, three finals and one semifinal on red clay there, along with an early loss in 2012 when the event made an ill-fated experiment with blue clay.

The young gun built a promising foundation in Sunday's final and forced Nadal to a tiebreak in the first set before losing stamina in the second and struggling to keep pace with the king of clay from that point on. 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. Tim had four break points, but Nadal came out of a hard situation and ended the match in their favor.

Rafael Nadal continued his clay-court dominance by dispatching Austrian Dominic Thiem in straight sets on Sunday to win the Madrid Open.

Nadal has now won three consecutive titles, with the previous two coming in the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell.

Thiem was trying to win his ninth title, and the first since winning the Rio de Janeiro tournament in the beginning of the year.

"It was a very important final for both of us, for him as it was the first in the Masters 1000, and for me it's always special to play here in Madrid, in this unique tournament". In game 7 Novak saved a set point with a service victor and he managed to hold and reduce the deficit to 5-2, starting to play a little bit better and imposing his shots to shake off the pressure from his back.

The 30-year-old Nadal rode momentum to break in the first game of the second set, and Thiem fought to the end.

Passes the idle Roger Federer in the rankings, guaranteeing a top-4 seed at the French Open regardless of what happens in Rome.

"This is a very emotional period of the season". "I did well in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, and also here".

Thiem, 23, was playing in his first Masters 1000 final but broke first for a 2-1 lead in the first set as he dictated play from the middle of the court. I think I played a good first set. I'm going to enjoy the next hours, then I'll think about Rome. "I hope to do the same in Rome (in this week's Italian Open)".

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

Nadal, who was out for much of previous year because of a wrist injury, has won 30 of his last 32 sets going into the tournament in Rome this week. Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well.

  • Julie Sanders