Nadal outlasts Thiem, wins third straight ATP Tour event

Rafael Nadal is being quoted at even money to win a 10th French Open after he bundled his old rival Novak Djokovic out of the Madrid Masters in straight sets.

Nadal has now equalled Novak Djokovic's record of most Masters 1000 titles won, having picked up his 30th crown at that level on Sunday.

It feels ironic that the only times that Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem have ever met is on clay, with only one win for the young Austrian in Buenos Aires previous year.

In the tie-break, Thiem continued to challenge the "King of Clay", erasing set points four and five before Nadal claimed one of the best sets of the year when Thiem sailed a forehand long.

The marathon first set lasted a minute under an hour-and-a-half and seemed to drain Thiem's belief as well as his energy resources as he was broken to start the second set. Nadal broke early in the second set but was not able to pull away, and needed to save four break points in the final game before closing out the match.

"I felt comfortable hitting the ball the last few days, physically ready, mentally sharp as well".

"It will be a very hard match against one of the best sportsmen this sport has ever had, and to have a chance I'll have to be at my very best", Nadal said.

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He's made the quarter-finals at the Foro Italico in each of the last two seasons with wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Leonardo Mayer, Sock and Tomas Berdych (the latter 6-0 6-0). I was much, much better and much closer than in Barcelona. The semifinal in question is scheduled for Saturday and would've been played out by the time you read this.

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

"I just play every single tournament without thinking a lot of things". What I'm really happy about is to achieve a title like this here in Madrid.

"I knew I was playing well in the first set but I just couldn't take my chances". It was his first final in a Masters 1000 event. He also beat Djokovic in Monte Carlo where he made the semis. Then he will try to win his 10th title at Roland Garros, where he captured his last Grand Slam title three years ago.

Romania's Simona Halep successfully defended her Madrid Open title in the Women's Tennis Association Premier Mandatory event.

Nadal had been forced to withdraw in Paris with a wrist injury that decimated the rest of his season and saw him drop to No9 in the rankings at the end of the year. "What's important to me is to make it to another final". "I hope you understand and respect that".

Nadal held his serve to love in the ensuing game to move ahead at 6-5, and Thiem drove on to the tiebreak despite his opponent's best efforts to avoid any need with a last-ditch break attempt.

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