NADAL MOVES TO 4TH IN RANKINGS: Rafael Nadal's climb one place to fourth in the world on the strength of his Madrid Masters win was confirmed in the latest ATP rankings released Monday.
Nadal told Television Espanola: "The truth is I was up against an opponent who, in the next five to 10 years, will be fighting for the most important titles, so I'm very happy to have won". Four games without a point against the serve followed as Nadal closed in on victory.
Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning the final of the Madrid Open.
And eventually it was Nadal who prevailed with his fifth set point when Thiem fired long.
The Spaniard finished off the first set in 40 minutes and again broke the struggling Djokovic in the opening game of the second.
This clay-court season, Nadal is winning 69.1 percent of his points on serve and 48.3 percent of his return points - a combined success total of 117.4 percent - as reported by The Guardian.
Thiem was trying to win his ninth title, and the first since winning the Rio de Janeiro tournament in the beginning of the year.
"I could have played better, " Djokovic said. "Sometimes against the best players in the world, the best ever player on this surface, you even lose when you play well", said Thiem, who also rises to a career high seventh in the rankings. The 14-times Grand Slam victor broke in the opening game of the second set and saved a break point in the next, maintaining a two-game advantage until a thrilling 10th game. He also made it to three finals, losing two of them to Federer, including at the Australian Open.
The Italian Open started on Sunday but the focus was still on Madrid Mutual in which the final match pitted the finalists in Barcelona a week earlier.
"This is a very emotional period of the season".
Thiem also fell victim to Nadal's supreme form in the final in Barcelona two weeks ago, but there was little for the 23-year-old to be dispirited about as he pushed Nadal all the way in his first Masters series final.
Djokovic has seen his form dip since crashing out in the third round of Wimbledon previous year to Sam Querrey.
"It was really good to play in the semi-finals of a big event, and to play against one of the top rivals I have in my life". I take, as I say, more positives than negatives into the next week in Rome.