Simply unstoppable. Rafael Nadal ended Novak Djokovic’s streak in their 50th match together. Having lost seven clashes on the trot (15-0 in sets), since winning his last at the 2014 French Open, the Spaniard beat the Serbian player 6-2, 6-4 in the semi-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open to reach the final, which will be the 107th of his career and sixth this season.
The win also means that the Mallorcan has reined in Djokovic in their head-to-head (now 24-26) and it gives him the chance to claim his 30th Masters 1000 title, which would equal the record held by the number 2 in the ATP Rankings.
In a dazzling start, Nadal gave his opponent little chance in the first four games. He started by going a break up to love, then converted his own serve, took the second break and held his serve again; he was in sensational form. With a perfect drop shot, the Spaniard closed out a textbook set with 12 winners, 86% of points won on his first service and no break points conceded.
Nearly a year after since their last clash, on 13 May 2016 in Rome, Nadal and Djokovic squared off on the Caja Mágica clay to write a new chapter in the story of the rivalry with the most meetings ever.
In the second set, Djokovic reacted when he most needed to. Nadal again took a 2-0 lead, but this time the Serb responded with two consecutive games of his own. However, Nadal, dictating the tempo once again, broke Nole one more time. From then on he gave his opponent little chance.
The Mallorcan, who has improved as the week has gone on, produced some of his best tennis against Djokovic, who was unable to contain the barrage from the 14-time Grand Slam champion. The win means that Nadal now has a chance to lift the title in Madrid for the fifth time in his career (2005, 2010, 2013 and 2014) and to reach Rome unbeaten on clay this season, after his spectacular start to the clay-court swing, which started two weeks back at the Monte Carlo tournament.
His positive performance in Madrid, together with others in recent weeks (titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona), Nadal replaced Roger Federer in first place of the ATP Race to London. Moreover, the Balearic Islander earned a far more important reward: a chance to continue growing his legend with another of the most important trophies on tour.