MADRID, May 11, 2018
Dominic Thiem ended Rafael Nadal‘s 21-match and 50-sets winning streaks on clay with a 7-5, 6-3 victory in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open on Friday afternoon.
The No. 5 seed from Austria won 74 per cent of his first service points and broke the World No. 1 five times to prevail after one hour and 56 minutes. Thiem was the last man to win a set and a match against Nadal on clay, doing so on 19 May 2017 in the Rome quarterfinals.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) 11. Mai 2018
“I know that being aggressive is the only way for me to beat him. If I stay too far behind the baseline, then he eats you alive and you have no chance. That’s why I need to move forward, even if staying back might feels more comfortable to me, “said Thiem, who will play South African Kevin Anderson in the semi-final.
Nadal loses World No. 1 status
“I am playing against one of the best players of the world. He played well. We played in special conditions. The ball flies more here… I was not under control of the point [for most of] the match,” Nadal said.
“My real feeling was when I was hitting the ball with my forehand or even with my backhand, I was not comfortable, confident to change directions… That was my feeling.”
With Thiem’s upset of Nadal, Roger Federer will return to the World No. 1 in ATP Rankings on 14 May for a fifth stint and 309th week.
“I lost the No. 1 before, but what makes me happy is I feel fit, can compete with possibilities every single week. This is my final goal: to be happy. That’s what I’m working on,” said Nadal, who would reclaim the top spot on May 21 if he wins his eighth title in Rome.