If there was one player that had the armoury to stop Rafael Nadal, especially on clay, it was Dominic Thiem.
The Austrian beat Nadal 7-5 6-3 on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open to stop the Spaniard at 50 consecutive set wins and end his six-week reign as world No.1.
Thiem, who was dismantled in Monaco three weeks ago by Nadal, admitted he had to be almost flawless to beat the king of clay. “I had to play an extraordinary match, and that’s what I did,” Thiem said on court after the match.
“It takes a really good match to beat Rafa on clay, but I think a very important thing was that I went in with the attitude that I can beat him.
“Obviously, two weeks ago in Monte-Carlo, he killed me love and two. It was very important I went into the match with a positive attitude, with an attitude to win.”
Thiem also became the third player ever to beat Nadal at least three times on clay. Others are Novak Djokovic, who has beaten Nadal seven times on clay and Gaston Gaudio, who managed it on three occasions.
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