Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4 Sunday in the Madrid Open final to win his third straight title and continue his good form heading into the French Open.
It was a fifth Madrid title for the 30-year-old and a record-equalling 30th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown, matching Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead.
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.
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After already claiming his 10th title at Monte-Carlo and Barcelona, this time it's winning Madrid for the fifth time, his fourth in the nine years since the event moved from indoor hardcourts to clay in 2009.
Nadal had to stave off a break point on his own serve to consolidate the break for 2-0.
Nadal broke in the first game of the second set but Thiem fought to the end. "Of course, things are working out, and I'm very happy for that". I was much, much better and much closer than in Barcelona, Thiem said. 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. But in December or January, I was not expecting to play badly, because I knew I was doing a very good off-season. That's what I will try', said Thiem, who this week wasn't followed by his coach Gunter Bresnik, who will return with him in Rome.
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The audience appeared to sense Thiem's defiance was waning, but the player wasn't as content with his fate and rallied to fend off two match points, tying at deuce before landing a final game blow to pull within a game at 5-4 down. But considering we haven't seen Federer play on clay this year, and the fact that historically he gets destroyed by Nadal on clay, it seems more than likely that Nadal will sweep the clay court season this year.
Rafael Nadal of Spain hits a backhand against Roger Federer of Switzerland (not pictured) in the men's singles championship of the 2017 Miami Open at Crandon Park Tennis Center. "It's logical that after a hard week, I've been playing a lot of matches, a lot of hours out there on the court, I feel like it's sore, a little bit exhausted". Because I'm not walking perfectly doesn't mean I have an injury. I'm 31 years old.
"I think today the decision is completely different, the situation is different. I hope to do the same in Rome". "After that, I think I have a few days to rest".
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