Rafael Nadal claimed the milestone 30th Masters 1000 crown in Madrid 2017. The home favorite beat Dominic Thiem 7-6, 6-4 after two hours and 15 minutes of an extraordinary battle for the fourth Caja Magica trophy. It was one of the best matches on clay that season, with players pushing each other to the limits, especially in the opener that lasted almost 80 minutes.
Nadal fended off two set points to take the breaker 10-8 and broke Thiem's serve at the beginning of the second set to stay in front until the end and grab the 15th win from as many matches on clay in 2017. Thus, Rafa lifted his third straight title on clay that spring and the 72nd in a career.
Chasing his first Masters 1000 crown, Thiem fought like a lion, proving he was the world's second-best player on the slowest surface at that moment behind Rafa. The Austrian saved two match points on serve in the second set's ninth game, but Rafa stayed focused and brought the match home on his serve a few minutes later after repelling four break chances.
Thus, he caught Novak Djokovic on 30 Masters 1000 crowns. Thiem tried to become the first player born after 1988 with a notable title, proving his class and the ability to win big trophies on clay. In the Barcelona final a few weeks ago, Thiem could not keep pace with Nadal after the opening set's closing stages.
Still, the Austrian played unbelievable tennis in the Spanish capital, chasing the king of clay in literally every point and staying in contention for almost two hours and 20 minutes before laying down his weapons. Rafa defended like in his prime, pursuing every ball and constantly forcing his rival to play one extra shot.
He took charge in the most critical rallies with brave and aggressive tennis. Of course, it could not stay on a high level for the entire encounter, but overall, it was a high-quality contest and certainly one of the best matches of the season up to that point.
Rafael Nadal toppled Dominic Thiem to claim the 2017 Madrid Open crown.
Nadal played a bit better on the first and second serve, fending off five out of six break chances to avoid turmoils in his games. Thiem was also there, repelling six out of eight break opportunities offered to Rafa and staying close to his rival.
Rafa finished the clash with 27 winners and 18 unforced errors, hitting equally good from both wings and building a clear edge in the most extended rallies that secured his victory. Nothing separated them in the quickest exchanges up to four strokes.
Thiem had an early lead and broke Rafa in game three to open a 3-1 advantage. The Spaniard pulled it back in game six, recovering his shots and hitting with more pace. Dominic did a great job erasing three set points in game ten and came back from 5-3 down in the tie break to earn two set points.
Nadal stayed composed and converted his fifth set point at 9-8 to grab the opener in 78 minutes. Carried by this momentum, Rafa broke at the start of the second set, which proved to be the encounter's critical point. He saved a break chance in game two to cement the advantage, followed by six commanding holds on both sides.
Thiem served to stay in the match at 3-5 and fended off two match points while refusing to surrender! The next game was the most extended of the match, and the Austrian had a chance to prolong the battle. Dominic had four break chances, but Nadal repelled them with solid hitting.
Rafa crossed the finish line on the fourth match point thanks to a beautiful volley that earned the first Madrid crown for him in four years.