Rafael Nadal Wins Madrid Open for 30th Masters Series Title
(May 14, 2017) Rafael Nadal won his third straight clay court title on Sunday defeating Dominic Thiem 7-6 (8), 6-4 to win the Madrid Open, for the fifth time in his career for his 72nd overall career crown. With his 30th Masters title win, he equals Novak Djokovic for most Masters 1000 series events.
It’s his 15th straight match win. With 34 matches won on the year, he leads the tour.
The 14-time major champion from Spain will move up in the rankings to No. 4 ahead of Roger Federer. Nadal also leads in the Race to London for the year end tournament title and World No. 1.
“I think it was a tough match since the beginning, especially here in altitude, which is difficult to make breaks against a player like Thiem,” Nadal said. “Returning the ball is difficult, especially when he hits it so high.
“Since the beginning, I was playing with a lot of pressure. Fortunately I managed to come back and break. I think he made an error, so I managed to break again.
“After that, I calmed down. I think I played a good first set. Anything could have happened at the end of the first set. But I think I played well the important points at the end of the first set. I saved a few set points playing some good shots with my forehand. After that I went for it.
“I knew at the beginning of the second set, it was going to be very important. Once you finish a first set like that, it’s normal to lower your level a little bit. I had to play well in the second set. I started with a break, so that was very good towards what I had to do after that.”
It was the 30-year-old’s second straight victory over the 23-year-old, whom he defeated in the final of Barcelona two weeks ago.
“I think it was a good fight out there,” said the Austrian. “I was much, much better and much closer than in Barcelona. I think I already had worse weeks in my life than this one.”
“I gave everything that I could,” Thiem explained. “But there were many or some chances in the first set. But obviously if you want to play a close match, if you want to have a chance winning against Rafa on clay, I mean, you have to play your best. There’s no other way. And, of course, it would be enough against many other players.
“But, I mean, it was a final of a Masters 1000, my first one, against the best player on this surface ever. Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well. That’s the thing in tennis: there’s only one winner.”
“To try to win Roland Garros, you don’t need to be No. 4 or No. 1 or No. 5, what you need is to play tennis very well,” Nadal said. “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.”
“It was a good fight out there. I was much, much better and much closer than in Barcelona,” Thiem said. “Sometimes against the best players in the world, you even lose when you play well.”
“Of course, it were unbelievable two weeks in Spain: Barcelona and Madrid. I’m going to enjoy the next hours, then I’ll think about Rome. It’s, again, a big and important tournament.
“Now that I did it once, play really well in such a big tournament, next step is to maintain this level to the next week. That’s what I will try.”
Nadal has won three of the tournaments leading into Roland Garros where he hopes to win his 10th title.
“To try to win Roland Garros, you don’t need to be No. 4 or No. 1 or No. 5, what you need is to play tennis very well,” Nadal said. “This is the situation right now.”
“If I am No. 4 and I played badly, I’m not going to have chances. If I am No. 5 and I play well, I will have the same chances as if I’m No. 4 or No. 5. It’s just circumstantial.
“In my career, being No. 4 or No. 5, I don’t think it changes a lot for me. What I’m really happy about, I really enjoy, is to achieve a title like here in Madrid, to win a title like this.
“Today is a day to be satisfied, to be happy, and to have this trophy. I thought I was going to take it, but apparently it’s going to stay here. After tomorrow, I will think about Rome. That’s everything I’m thinking right now.
“This is a very emotional period of the season. I really enjoy these tournaments. I just try to go for all of them. I try to compete. In Monte-Carlo and Barcelona I did well, same here. I hope to do the same in Rome.”
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