Rafael Nadal continued his impressive form by winning the Madrid Masters final and keeping intact his unbeaten record on clay this season.
It means a lot to me to win at home, it's always a special place for me Rafa Nadal
He now heads into the Rome Masters and the French Open, the second grand slam of the year, where he is more than likely to be the favourite and extend his already formidable record on clay.
The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem 7-6(8) 6-4 to claim his fifth title in Madrid on his fourth match point after surviving a very tough challenge from the Austrian, to earn his 15th straight victory and tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 30 career titles in Masters 1000 events.
The triumph also improved Nadal’s career title record to 72 and provided him with his 52nd career title on clay and lifted him to fourth in the world rankings.
Looking ahead, the King of Clay said: To try to win Roland Garros, you donÈt need to be No. 4 or No. 1 or No. 5, what you need is to play tennis very well. And on his current run added: I don’t think it changes a lot for me. What I’m really happy about is to achieve a title like this here in Madrid. I see myself being able to win important titles and achieve my goals.
These last few weeks have been very special. I’m very happy for what I achieved, Nadal said. It means a lot to me to win at home, it’s always a special place for me.
Nadal, who also beat Thiem when he won the Barcelona Open seven days earlier, was full of praise for the Austrian who he believes will be the player to beat in years to come.
In an even first set, Nadal had to save two set points in the tiebreaker. The Spaniard converted his fifth set point of the match to take that tiebreaker and go one set up. Nadal then 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.
Anything could have happened at the end of the first set, but I think I played well on the important points at the end, Nadal said. I saved a few set points playing some good shots with my forehand. After that I went for it.