Rafael Nadal has defeated Dominic Thiem (world no. 9) 7-6(8) 6-4 in the final of the Madrid Open to win his 5th Madrid Masters title. The Spaniard is now 15-0 on clay this year, having only dropped two sets. In Madrid, he battled through a tough draw, which saw him defeat Fognini, Nick Kyrgios, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic.
During the hard court season, Nadal made two finals, twice to be defeated by Roger Federer, and once to big-hitting American Sam Querrey. On clay, his superior movement and lefty spin provided the advantage needed.
Tennis experts will consider him the favorite heading into the Rome Masters and The French Open, both played on clay in the next few weeks.
The King Of Clay by Stats
* 380-34 or 92% win record on clay over a 13-year pro career.
* A record 10 titles at the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona, an ATP 500 – the most at a single tournament by any tennis player
* On clay in 2017, has won 69% of points on serve and 48.3% on returns, his best figures since 2012. He is 15-0 in matches, 30-2 for sets, and 3-0 in finals.
* has a record-tying 30 Masters 1000 titles (tied with Novak Djokovic) – 22 of these were on clay
* He has overtaken Roger Federer to be no. 1 in the ATP Year-End rankings race and is no. 4 in the world. Along with Federer’s withdrawal from the French Open, this ensures Nadal will not meet Murray, Djokovic or Wawrinka before the semifinals if he makes it that far.
Looking ahead: Rome and Paris
Nadal will play his opening match in Rome against fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro. He has won Rome 7 times and if he is successful in gaining an 8th title, it will be the first time since 2010 that he has swept all 3 masters on clay, and the first time in his career that he will have won the 3 masters and Barcelona.
Nadal has won 9 titles at the French Open and is looking to complete his third ‘La Decima’ this year. While has not won a Grand Slam in 3 years, other big names are not favorites to win. Djokovic and Murray have had subpar seasons, and Roger Federer has announced he isn’t playing the French Open, instead choosing to focus on Wimbledon.
On the French Open: What you need to try and win Roland Garros is play great tennis, not being 3rd, 4th or 5th seed.
On the future and winning in Madrid: Tomorrow I’ll wake up with joy, and I will want to do things even better. That’s the joy that keeps you going, that keeps you alive.