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Nadal snaps winless streak vs Djokovic to reach Madrid final

14 May 2017, 01:06 | Marlene Fleming

Nadal snaps winless streak vs Djokovic to reach Madrid final

Nadal snaps winless streak vs Djokovic to reach Madrid final

Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates at the end of his ATP 1000 Masters Men's Singles Semifinal match against Novak Djokovic of Serbia in Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2017.

Djokovic led the head-to-head 26-23 and the Serb was on a seven-match winning streak, indeed an 11-12 run, against Nadal, and what's more, he had won their last three on clay.

The 23-year-old, ranked ninth in the world, claimed a 6-4, 6-4 straight sets win over Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas. Nadal goes for his 4th Madrid title while Thiem, who saved five MPs against Dimitrov earlier in the week, eyes the biggest win of his career in his first Masters final. "I will give everything tomorrow and hope I can play a good final".

In the head-to-head record between the two Madrid Open finalists, Nadal has won three out of the four matches against Thiem with Nadal's latest win coming in the finals of the Barcelona Open. I had not had that feeling for a long time so it's been a positive week'. Nadal had six break chances, converting two in each set.

"Novak is someone that I don't have a good record (against)", said the Japanese.

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However, that run was emphatically ended as Nadal, willed on by a fervent home support including Cristiano Ronaldo in the VIP boxes, made the ideal start by breaking the Djokovic serve to love.

I could have played better today. Past year he was 31-2 after winning the title in Madrid, which was his fifth of the season at the time.

He did salvage some pride by seeing off more pressure on his serve to at least hold twice and force Nadal to serve out to take the first set in 40 minutes. I take, as I say, more positives than negatives into the next week in Rome. The Spaniard put down his 24th victory, but Djokovic still has two more wins. Now he's in the quarters playing very good tennis.

It was another categorical win for Nadal in what has been a superb season for the fifth-ranked Spaniard, who will be trying to win his third straight title on Sunday. But I'm just here to try to make it the best possible way, to play my best tennis, and of course to beat an opponent such as Novak, it gives you a lot of confidence. Just his quality was very high. Nadal last won in Madrid in 2014.

Nadal maintained his momentum by winning the first two games of the second set, but Djokovic sprung into life and levelled at 2-2 when the Mallorca native netted a backhand after being given the runaround. I made a lot of unforced errors, especially in the first set, said Djokovic, "I felt like I was playing well throughout the week". "Let's respect his level right now because it's true that perhaps it's not as high as it used to be, but I'm telling you, it's been a lot of years, and I know because I've been in his skin, being up there every single week, being No. 1 every single week, it's almost impossible". As far as Djokovic and his continuing decline goes, this loss can't necessarily be attributed to his recent decision to fire his entire support team.



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