MA­JES­TIC ON CLAY

Nadal wins record fifth Madrid Open

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MADRID

RAFAEL Nadal con­sol­i­dated his fly­ing start to the clay-court sea­son by tak­ing a record-ex­tend­ing fifth Madrid Open ti­tle on Sun­day, bat­tling past a de­ter­mined Do­minic Thiem to win 7-6 (10-8), 6-4.

The Spa­niard, who snapped a seven-match los­ing streak against No­vak Djokovic to win their semi-fi­nal on Satur­day, was given a much sterner test by Thiem than in last month’s fi­nal of the Barcelona Open.

Nadal had eas­ily beaten Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in Barcelona but got an early scare when he was bro­ken in Sun­day’s third game, soon fall­ing 3-1 be­hind as the Aus­trian held.

Nadal broke back to win the sixth game and earned three set points at 5-4 but World No 9 Thiem saved each one to even­tu­ally hold and force the tiebreak.

The pair stayed neck and neck un­til Thiem lost his nerve and made two un­forced er­rors in a row, gift­ing Nadal the set.

The 14-time grand-slam win­ner broke in the open­ing game of the sec­ond set and saved a break point in the next, main­tain­ing a two-game ad­van­tage un­til a thrilling 10th game.

The 23-year-old Thiem earned two break points which Nadal saved to move within a point of the ti­tle.

Thiem re­sisted three cham­pi­onship points but Nadal seized the fourth with a drop shot to the back of the court to clinch his third con­sec­u­tive clay-court crown, af­ter win­ning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in April, and the 72nd tour­na­ment win of his ca­reer.

“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; it was a very ex­cit­ing game,” Nadal told Tele­vi­sion Es­panola.

“It was a very im­por­tant fi­nal for both of us — for him as it was the first in the Masters 1,000 and for me it’s al­ways spe­cial to play here in Madrid in this unique tour­na­ment. You never know when it might be the last so I al­ways try to en­joy it.” Reuters

REUTERS PIC

Rafael Nadal with the tro­phy af­ter his vic­tory over Do­minic Thiem in the Madrid Open fi­nal on Sun­day.

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