Novak Djokovic Cannot Challenge Rafael Nadal At The French Open: Mark Petchey

Dominic Thiem and Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal shakes hands with Dominic Thiem after his defeat. | Francisco Seco AP

14 May, 2018

Shapovalov, who had never won a clay-court match on the main tour before Madrid, will be playing in his second Masters semi-final where he will on Saturday face either John Isner or Alexander Zverev.

Zverev has been in fine form of late.

Thiem knocked Nadal out in straight sets to reach the last four at the Madrid Open, where Kevin Anderson now awaits. "I don't know if that's a tough player or not", Nadal said.

But the Austrian was outplayed, and over-powered, by Zverev, who collects his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

With Nadal dropping 820 points, the result ensures that Roger Federer will return to the World No. 1 position on Monday, a little over a month after relinquishing the top spot to his greatest nemesis on April 2. It's the second time Thiem has beaten Nadal in straight sets on clay in as many years.

Zverev, who earned a first win over Thiem on clay, was a deserving victor and will now turn his attention to Rome and the Internazionali d'Italia.

He came perilously close to failing again against the contrasting style of the single-handed Serb, but after two and a quarter hours, he sealed his 20th match-win of the year, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3. "We both should be very proud of this handsome final we played today". As Nadal's game collapsed into a heap of errors, Thiem showed his pinpoint accuracy and aggression to carve out a 7-5, 6-3 win over the Spaniard, a year after losing the final to him at the Caja Magica. "Hopefully, I can continue the way I am playing in Rome". Thiem's only loss to Zverev came in Beijing of 2016.

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The 21-year-old adds to the two Masters titles he won last year, at the Italian Open and Canadian Open.

Nadal had not dropped a set on his way to an 11th Monte-Carlo Masters and 11th Barcelona title, and was favourite to defend his Madrid title too.

The Spanish trio's presence was not enough to help rally Nadal to victory as he saw his emphatic run on clay - he was unbeaten on the surface in 357 days - ended by world No 7 Dominic Thiem.

"But I don't think I faced break points in the whole tournament".

Thiem claimed a first win against Anderson at the seventh attempt with a commanding display. "But I wouldn't be surprised to see him in the quarters or the semi-finals because that is the quality of the man". Nearly everything worked out.

"It gave me a huge boost of confidence", he said.

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