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14 May 2017, 01:07 | Alberta Rodriguez
Maria Sharapova hits a strong backhand
Rafael Nadal is being quoted at even money to win a 10th French Open after he bundled his old rival Novak Djokovic out of the Madrid Masters in straight sets.
Nadal was hitting forehand winners from all over the court and he comfortably saw out the first set before breaking again at the start of the second.
Djokovic won the last meeting between the pair in the quarter-finals of the Rome Masters exactly a year ago, and Nadal had not beaten the 12-time grand slam victor since the 2014 French Open final.
Saturday's match between Djokovic and Nadal will be the 50th between the two great rivals, who have won a combined 26 Grand Slam titles.
Djokovic went into the game fresher than the Spaniard after Kei Nishikori's wrist injury game him a bye in the quarter-final, but perhaps a day without competition effected his rhythm as he struggled to come with Nadal, who claimed the first set with few problems.
Nadal last beat the world number two in the 2014 French Open final. Djokovic once again appeared tired and out-of-sorts during the contest, though a lot of that had to do with Nadal's ferocious power. It wasn't a very high quality of tennis from my side.
After kicking her racket and receiving a violation from the umpire, Halep calmed down and went on to lift the title once again by winning the third set 6-2.
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Nadal is now on an unbeaten run of 14 matches and is looking to win his fifth title here at Madrid while Thiem is looking to win his second title of the year. Winning is very important but also the way I'm playing at the moment makes me very relaxed. I had not had that feeling for a long time so it's been a positive week'.
Djokovic had not been to the semi-final of a tournament since the Qatar Open in January and admits it has felt good to get back among the top players again.
"I feel great. It means a lot to play my first final at this level".
A year on from a triumph that suggested Murray had finally mastered the toughest surface of them all, the 29-year-old is back to square one after a humiliating exit to unseeded 20-year-old Croat Borna Coric before the business end of the Madrid Masters began earlier this week. "I'm happy to be in the final, even though Novak wasn't at his best", said Nadal on Sky Sports. "Hopefully I'll have another good result in Rome".
But Thiem has beaten the "King of Clay" on the red surface in Argentina previous year and he continued his promising form against Cuevas. "I was trying my best", Djokovic said.
It was another categorical win in what has been a superb season for the fifth-ranked Nadal, who will be trying to win his third straight title on Sunday. "His quality was very high and he managed to do whatever he wanted, especially in the first set".
Thiem booked his place in a first ever Masters series final with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas in a match that finished just after midnight local time. "But, you know, I have lots of good things to take out of this week".
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