Romania's Simona Halep successfully defended her Madrid Open title in the Women's Tennis Association Premier Mandatory event.

Despite being in his home country, Madrid is well-known for being Nadal's "least" successful spring clay event, but he has now achieved four titles, three finals and one semifinal on red clay there, along with an early loss in 2012 when the event made an ill-fated experiment with blue clay.

Rafael Nadal wins his fifth Madrid Open title with a straight-sets but hard-fought victory over Dominic Thiem.

Spains Rafael Nadal bites the trophy as poses for photographers after winning the final of the Madrid Open tennis tournament in two sets, 7-6 (10-8), 6-4, against Austrias Dominic Thiem in Madrid, Spain, Sunday.

By contrast, Nadal cruised to a 14-0 win record on clay when he ousted long-time rival Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Yet Nadal, coming back into form after two underwhelming years, was quick to play down suggestions he was already the favourite for the French Open and, by default, the Rome Masters - a tournament he is looking to win for the eighth time. Nadal escaped the tricky Fabio Fognini before dismissing Nick Kyrgios and David Goffin in straight sets.

However finally Djokovic found a groove with his serve, held to love, and then swung a couple of fine backhand down-the-line shots and a return-of-serve victor for deuce against Nadal. The Spaniard backed up the strong performance with another championship on Sunday.

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With his career 71st clay court title, Nadal also extended his recent winning streak to 15-0 after breezing to victories at Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and now Madrid. The champions have claimed 60 of the past 65 Masters 1000 crowns, dating back to 2010 Monte-Carlo.

Nadal will be expected to continue his dominance over Thiem later on Sunday, May 14, and given the way he has dominated the clay court tournaments this year, the Spaniard will be expected to win the Madrid Open.

Nadal has just dropped one set at the Madrid Open so far, in his first match against Italian Fabio Fognini.

He blamed his elimination mostly on Nadal's good form. And with the Austrian feet behind the baseline after consecutive backhands, Nadal would tap a drop shot victor inside the service box. He managed to do whatever he wanted, especially in the first set.

Both players were producing some brilliant winners but Nadal eventually took the breaker 10-8 when Thiem's usually trusty forehand flew just long to end a set which had lasted nearly an hour and a half.

And on this evidence he needs new guidance as quickly as possible if he is to defend his French Open title as two more forehand errors gifted Nadal another break at the start of the second set. The 31-year-old Uruguayan won four consecutive three-set matches to make the final four.

Also, John Isner defeated 14th-seeded Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-1.


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