Nadal beats Djokovic to reach Madrid final

'It were unbelievable two weeks in Spain: Barcelona and Madrid.

"I haven't had that feeling in months, so it's great to feel that", he said.

"It will be a very hard match against one of the best sportsmen this sport has ever had, and to have a chance I'll have to be at my very best", Nadal said.

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. I can actually make a strong case for that being a negative as the Scot is now very much in a period when he's going to see his number one ranking start to slip - he has many ranking points to defend at present. In 2017, Rafa won two trophies, plus lost three times in the finals, so that the Madrid duel will be for him 6 fight for the title of the season. "It means a lot to me to win at home, it's always a special place for me".

"The circumstances nowadays are completely different compared to those seven matches that occurred before".

"It was really good to play in the semifinals of a big event, and to play against one of the top rivals I have in my life", Djokovic said.

However, that run was emphatically ended as Nadal, willed on by a fervent home support including Cristiano Ronaldo in the VIP boxes, made the ideal start by breaking the Djokovic serve to love.

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Djokovic had gone on to win a first emotional but exhausting French Open, and the effort of doing so, and of maintaining his No1 ranking for over two years, took its toll. He was controlling the match from beginning to the end.

Djokovic was playing his first tournament since splitting from his long-term coaching team and won just four points in the opening four games as he fell 4-0 down to a rejuvenated Nadal.

Djokovic went into the game fresher than the Spaniard after Kei Nishikori's wrist injury game him a bye in the quarter-final, but perhaps a day without competition effected his rhythm as he struggled to come with Nadal, who claimed the first set with few problems. It wasn't a very high quality of tennis from my side. But Nadal found his way into the contest and levelled the first set at 3-3.

The marathon first set lasted a minute under an hour-and-a-half and seemed to drain Thiem's belief as well as his energy resources as he was broken to start the second set.

Thiem handed the break back by netting a simple volley for 3-3, but showed admirable resistence to battle back from 0-40 when serving to stay in the set a 4-5 to force a tie-break. A winning serve and one last error from Djokovic, and Nadal jumped and pumped with joy.

Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the 12th game and he took the opportunity to draw level at 2-2 but Nadal was in a ruthless mood and hit back immediately with another break to regain a lead he would not relinquish.

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