Rafael Nadal ended his seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic in emphatic fashion by thrashing the world No.2 6-2 6-4 to reach the final of the Madrid Open.
The victory moves him within a step of a third consecutive title this season.
In the final he will face Dominic Thiem, who beat Pablo Cuevas 6-4 6-4 to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 final.
The Spaniard and four-time winner in Madrid got off to a dream start in the 50th meeting between the two great rivals, winning every point in the first game to break Djokovic, with the home crowd wildly celebrating his first point – a potent return which the Serbian could only hit into the ground.
Defending champion Djokovic, who split with long-time coach Marian Vajda and his staff the week before the tournament in a bid to reverse his downward trajectory of results in the last year, surrendered his serve again in the third game, and Nadal held to go 4-0 up.
Real Madrid great Raul and all-time top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo were among those watching in the stands in the Caja Magica on a scorching day in the Spanish capital in as Madrid fan Nadal continued his rampant start to the year.
The Spaniard finished off the first set in 40 minutes and again broke the struggling Djokovic in the opening game of the second. Djokovic broke back in the fourth to tie the set at 2-2 and celebrated by punching the air.
It proved to be just a brief respite for the Serbian, however, as Nadal broke him again in the next game and held to restore his two-game lead.
He missed two match points on his serve and then had to save a break point before taking the contest at the third time of asking to reach the Madrid final for the eighth time.
“I knew I’d have to play very well and I thought I did very well in the first set. Then in the second I got the typical nerves from playing Djokovic,” Nadal told Television Espanola.
“I couldnt be happier. To reach another final in Madrid means everything to me.”
20 May 2017
Rafael Nadal's winning streak ended at 17 matches as he lost in straight sets to Dominic T... More
27 April 2017
Despite the fact that only four players (maximum) are able to win a major in any given yea... More
16 March 2016
Agility is the ability to rapidly change direction without losing speed, balance, or body ... More