Madrid Flashback: Dominic Thiem Terminates Rafael Nadal's Clay Domination

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Madrid Flashback: Dominic Thiem Terminates Rafael Nadal's Clay Domination
Madrid Flashback: Dominic Thiem Terminates Rafael Nadal's Clay Domination

Dominic Thiem advanced into the 2018 Madrid Masters semi-final after dethroning the crowd favorite Rafael Nadal. Thiem ousted Nadal in the 2017 Rome Masters quarter-final. It was Nadal's only loss on clay in 2017, winning Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros.

Also, the king of clay embraced 21 consecutive victories and 50 sets during a brilliant streak before Thiem halted him in Caja Magica. Rafa had dropped only a few games against Dominic a few weeks earlier, and the Austrian was ready to serve revenge.

Thiem produced a 7-5, 6-3 victory in two hours and two minutes to dethrone world no. 1 and remain on the title course. Thus, Dominic became the third player with at least three wins over the Spaniard on clay after Gaston Gaudio and Novak Djokovic.

Also, he propelled Roger Federer to the ATP throne after Nadal failed to defend the 1000 ATP points won in the Spanish capital a year ago.

Dominic Thiem ended Rafael Nadal's incredible streak in Madrid 2018.

Thiem barely escaped a loss to Borna Coric the previous day, trailing 6-2, 5-4 before a notable comeback that gave him confidence.

Dominic played valiant tennis against Rafa. He took the ball early and fired bullets from the serve and groundstrokes to overpower the great rival who never found his rhythm. As always, Nadal was there to fight for every point.

However, it was not his day after hitting 12 winners and 29 unforced errors, while Thiem stood firm with 29 winners and 28 mistakes. The Austrian faced five break points and dropped serve two times. It was not enough at least for a set after getting broken five times from 12 chances offered to his opponent.

Interestingly, Nadal was in front in the shortest points. He often hung in there with service winners that got him out of trouble. However, he lost ground in the rallies beyond the fourth stroke, unable to match Thiem's shots' sheer power and depth.

Dominic was off to a good start, creating two break chances in the opening game. Nadal fended them off to avoid an early setback and stayed in touch until 3-3. Thiem grabbed a break in the seventh game and served for the set at 5-4.

Dominic squandered a set point and got broken to send momentum to the other side. Instead of building on that, Rafa experienced another break in game 11 and allowed Dominic to clinch the opener with a fine hold in the next one after over an hour.

The second set saw more challenging games. The Austrian gained the advantage when he seized the fifth break point in game three. He fended off a pair of break chances in the next game to forge a 3-1 lead and settle into a fine rhythm.

Rafa broke back to level the score at 3-3, but that was all we saw from him. Thiem stepped in on the return and grabbed breaks in games seven and nine to seal the deal in style and avenge that tight loss from the final in Caja Magica a year ago.

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