On the quest for his third clay title of the season, Rafael Nadal bested his rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the Madrid Open.
Nadal and Djokovic, who were both injured for most of the beginning season, had their first matchup of the year on Saturday. Nadal, who had lost his last 7 matchups against the Serb, knew he had to do more than just play his regular “King of Clay” tennis.
The match began with 2 consecutive breaks from Nadal, who had a 3-0 lead in minutes. Although it was too late to snag the first set from the Spaniard, Djokovic was beginning to hold his serve and get into a sort of rhythm. Nadal eventually ended up winning the first set 6-2, making it his first won set against Djokovic since 2014.
Going into the second set, Rafa’s presence was still loud and clear. He got a quick break from Djokovic and started off with a nice 2-0 lead. Then, the Serbian came back roaring. He played one of the best games of the match to break the Spaniard back and eventually tied the second set up at 2-2. Nadal, however, wouldn’t let the Serb takeover. He played smart and consistent tennis and ultimately ended up winning the match 6-2, 6-4.
Judging from his reaction to the win, Rafa was beyond happy. Whether it was because he snapped his seven match losing streak against Djokovic or because he made his way into the finals, it’s unclear. Perhaps it was because he won in front of football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in his own country. Nonetheless, this was a spectacular performance from the Spaniard.
Nadal is set to play Dominic Thiem in a rematch of the Barcelona final for a chance to win another Madrid Title. A win would give him 1,000 points and ultimately boost him to 3 in the world rankings.
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