Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal lifts title to match Novak Djokovic's record


Rafael Nadal's French Open credentials were boosted further when he claimed a record-equalling 30th ATP 1000 title at the Madrid Open on Sunday.

Rafael Nadal extended his record as the Madrid Open's most successful champion on Sunday after a 7-6 (8), 6-4 defeat of Dominic Thiem was enough to see the Spaniard clinch a fifth career crown in the final of the 2017 tournament.

The triumph at his home tournament gave Nadal his 72nd career title, and 52nd on clay.

Nadal also won in Monte Carlo last month.

"To try to win Roland Garros, you don't need to be No4 or No1 or No5, what you need is to play tennis very well".

Nadal then broke immediately at the start of the second set and the games went with serve until the ninth game when Nadal had two Championship points on Thiem's serve.

In an even first set, Nadal had to save two set points in the tiebreaker.

But the Spaniard broke back for 3-3 in typically gutsy fashion, winning an epic rally to set up break point and converting when Thiem netted a volley.

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"Anything could have happened at the end of the first set, but I think I played well the important points at the end", Nadal said. "After that I went for it". I won three trophies on the ground this year.

Do not forget, this is the young man who saved five match points against Grigor Dimitrov on his way to finally breaking past the quarter-finals at Masters events.

I think it was a good fight out there.

"Things are working out, and I'm very happy for that", he said after his two-hour and 17-minute tussle with a powerful and energetic Thiem. The clear favorite for Roland Garros and having accomplished all of his immediate goals, the question now becomes if Nadal, at nearly 31, even plays Rome or elects to rest.

Sunday's victory could have a significant impact on Nadal's French Open chances as it has moved him past Federer in the rankings, into the top four, which means he could get a more favourable draw as a top-four seed in Paris, avoiding potential quarter-finals against the likes of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. "Let's respect his level right now because it's true that perhaps it's not as high as it used to be, but I'm telling you, it's been a lot of years, and I know because I've been in his skin, being up there every single week, being No. 1 every single week, it's nearly impossible".

He defeated Djokovic in the semi-finals in Madrid, snapping a seven-match winless streak against the second-ranked Serb.

"This is a very emotional period of the season", Nadal said.