Djokovic upbeat despite yet another setback in Madrid

However, that lack of recovery time didn't show as Thiem struck the first blow by breaking the Nadal serve to move into a 3-1 first set lead.

An open era record 50th meeting between Nadal and Djokovic served to highlight the Serb's dramatic dip in form since they last met in Rome nearly exactly a year ago.

Nadal comes to the final with a series of 14 straight wins, in which only 2 assists lost to opponents.

However, the Spaniard added: "It's one more match".

The wayward form of Djokovic continued in the third game, two more errors, and an off-forehand victor from Nadal, and it was another break, and if that had thrilled the Spanish fans, a love hold, made with a smash and a forehand victor, had them in a state of euphoria.

Being the World Number 2 would be no disaster for virtually anyone else on the tour, especially when the man on the top is arguably having an even worse season, but Djokovic has set the bar so high that there is urgency on him to turn things around.

Rafael Nadal has won the Madrid Open after a grueling encounter with Dominic Thiem.

Real Madrid great Raul and all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo were among those watching in the stands in the Caja Majica on a scorching day in the Spanish capital in as Madrid fan Nadal continued his rampant start to the year. The Austrian had broken early to take a 2-1 lead in the set, but Nadal would break back to level proceeding at 3-3. It's logical that after a hard week, I've been playing a lot of matches, a lot of hours out there on the court, I feel like it's (knee) sore, a little bit exhausted.

Djokovic went into Saturday night's game fresher than the Spaniard after Kei Nishikori's wrist injury gave him a bye in the quarter-finals, reports Xinhua news agency. If I'm at my best and he's at his best on clay, he's probably the better player.

But on clay, nobody is able to match Nadal's success. "I don't think it changes a lot for me".

In a rematch of the Barcelona Open final on April 30, Nadal was pushed much harder by his Austrian opponent but eventually prevailed as Thiem paid the price for making too many errors. What I'm really happy about is to achieve a title like this here in Madrid.

"It was a game where I had to play well".

"I did try my best", Djokovic said. It's, I think, one of biggest weapons, the serve.

This win is the first one after 7 consecutive defeats against Djokovic, and Rafa needed this to happen in order to gain more confidence before the start of the French Open, where he is going to chase the 10th title in his career, and became the first player who has 10 Grand Slam titles at one major. But in December or January, I was not expecting to play badly, because I knew I was doing a very good off-season.

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