Rafael Nadal vs Dominic Thiem, Madrid Open 2017 final

It was Nadals second straight win against the 23-year-old Austrian, coming two weeks after the Barcelona Open final when the fifth-ranked Spaniard cruised to victory in straight sets.

Two of the best players ever to lift a tennis racket, 14-time Major champion Rafael Nadal and 12-time Major champion Novak Djokovic were about to play each other for the 50th time, a record rivalry in the Open era.

Rafael Nadal in action against Dominic Thiem in the final of the Madrid Masters.

He told atpworldtour.com: "What's important to me is to make it to another final".

Appearing in his eighth Madrid Open final-also a record high in the competition-the home favourite sailed to victory despite Thiem's best efforts to keep Nadal caged on his favoured clay surface. Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves to Rafael Nadal of Spain during their mens semifinal tennis match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, May 13, 2017.

"I think I played a really good first set".

Nadal, a four-time champion in Madrid, had an easier time in the second set after earning an early break, and closed out the match with another at the end. "I played well in the first set and although I had a few nerves in the second, that was because I have not beaten him for so long", Nadal said after his victory.

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It was another disappointing loss for the struggling Djokovic, who hasn't reached a final since winning his first tournament of the year in Doha.

Two match points came and went and Nadal had to save a break point on his own serve before he closed out the match.

My concern would be he's attempting more history this week - he's never previously played Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome in the same season, never mind won all four.

Halep thanked much-criticized Fed Cup coach Ilie Nastase after the match, but the 70-year-old's role in the trophy presentation was labelled "irresponsible and unacceptable" by the WTA. "It means the world to me to make it to another final here in Madrid". "I wasn't winning too many points on his service games until the last one where I managed to return many balls back in play and then win the match".

I wrote ahead of Madrid that Nadal would be a better bet in Italy than in his homeland.

World No 58 Evans had chances to break and recover from a hard start at 4-1 down in the first set, but Vesely showed his fighting spirit by saving every one of Evans's eight break points in the contest. I try to do things the best possible way, on the court or off the court, without doing anything insane.

However, the Serbian said he was pleased with his display in Madrid and that it gave him confidence for the Rome Masters next week, the final tournament before Roland Garros.