Anderson to face Nadal's conquerer Thiem in Madrid semis
- Author: Julie Sanders May 12, 2018,
May 12, 2018, 20:13
"It's hard to be able to win 50 sets in a row". "Well, it's done. It's over".
The world number one produced another imperious performance to make history once again and will face Dominic Thiem, the last man to beat him on the red dirt in Rome past year, at the quarter-final stage.
Nadal has twice gotten his revenge since Thiem's triumph past year, disposing of the young Austrian in straight sets at the 2017 French Open (6-3, 6-4, 6-0) and the Monte Carlo Masters (6-0, 6-2) a few weeks ago.
Nadal, somewhat sassily, pointed that out to the Austrian after his 7-5 6-3 victory - warning him that he has a long way to go to be considered as one of his toughest rivals on clay. "Tomorrow is a key match in the tournament".
Thiem hit the ball phenomenally in the set, hitting 15 winners to Nadal's seven, as well as hitting a massive number on the forehand side, 11. Zverev bested seventh-seeded American John Isner 6-4, 7-5, while Shapovalov battled past Great Britain's Kyle Edmund 7-5, 6-7 (6), 6-4 in a match that took almost two and a half hours.
Nadal at this stage was serving well, resisting the pace and penetration from Thiem, but he buckled in the seventh game: The Austrian took a lead, 3-5, and then stepped up to serve for the set. It's nearly as if the shackles came off here, he was playing with freedom and absolutely went for broke.
The 24-year-old, seeded fifth, will now face the South African Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals on Saturday.
He's the top seed and Thiem, the the No. 6 seed, is in his quarter. Edmund, an unseeded Brit, defeated former No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets on Wednesday.
In the other semifinal, second-seeded German Alexander Zverev will be opposed by Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Thiem also became the third player ever to beat Nadal at least three times on clay.
While a lot has been made of Nadal's impressive streak on clay, the 31-year-old has stayed focused on playing the match ahead of him, and maintaining his good health.
"I lost the No. 1 before, but what makes me happy is I feel fit, can compete with possibilities every single week".
"If he beats me three times in a row, maybe we can say he reads my game and can beat me".
She'll look to extend that run to 10 wins when she faces either Daria Kasatkina or Petra Kvitova on Friday.