Nadal sees off Djokovic in semi-finals — Madrid Masters

Nadal sees off Djokovic in semi-finals — Madrid Masters

Nadal sees off Djokovic in semi-finals — Madrid Masters

And with Stan Wawrinka sans any wins under his belt, and Goffin and Dominic Thiem the only others to make any sort of mark in the clay court season so far, is it now time for Djokovic to turn his season around and stop Rafael Nadal from sweeping the silverware on the dirt?

This season, Nadal improves to 15-0 on clay and has now won three consecutive titles, including two Masters 1000 crowns: Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell and the Mutua Madrid Open. 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.

But the Spaniard, buoyed by his belief and eager to avoid a third set, would earn two more championship points, converting the fourth with a backhand volley victor.

Thiem suffered defeat to Nadal in the Barcelona Open showdown last month, but will have a shot at revenge following Saturday's 6-4 6-4 triumph.

Of course the conversation inevitably moved to the fact that with this win, Nadal has leapfrogged Roger Federer in the rankings, not that he gave much store in the rankings to determine who would lift the title at the French Open. These tournaments are so strong, so it's awesome for me to go that far. 'I got a break in the first game. I'm just a little bit sore, tight. Tomorrow I'll wake up with joy, and I will want to do things even better.

On the women's side, defending champion Simone Halep of Romania cruised past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 to reach her third Madrid Open final. If I'm at my best and he's at his best on clay, he's probably the better player. I had some chances in the last game. "It shows you you're working in the right way", said Nadal, who has thrived after struggling with his game for two years.

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Nadal has now won at least one ATP title every year since 2004.

"This is a very emotional period of the season".

Novak Djokovic moved into the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters on Friday without hitting a ball as Kei Nishikori withdrew citing the recurrence of a wrist injury, tournament organisers said. He also made it to three finals, losing two of them to Federer, including at the Australian Open. In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona I did well, same here. "I felt like I was playing well throughout the week".

"I knew I'd have to play very well and I thought I did very well in the first set". I take, as I say, more positives than negatives into the next week in Rome.

The victory is Nadal's 30th at Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Masters 1000 level, meaning he has tied the record held by Serbia's Novak Djokovic.

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