Rafael Nadal maintained his impressive clay-court form by taking a record-extending fifth Madrid Open on Sunday, beating world No 9 Dominic Thiem 7-6, 6-4.
The Spaniard had ended a seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic to win their semi-final on Saturday.
Nadal had easily beaten Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in Barcelona but got an early scare when he was broken in Sunday’s third game, soon falling 3-1 behind as the Austrian held.
Nadal broke back to win the sixth game and earned three set points at 5-4 but world number nine Thiem saved each one to eventually hold and force the tie-break.
The pair stayed neck and neck until Thiem lost his nerve and made two unforced errors in a row, gifting Nadal the set.
Nadal broke in the opening game of the second set and saved a break point in the next, maintaining a two-game advantage until a thrilling 10th game.
Nadal added the Madrid title to wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona for the 72nd tournament win of his career.
‘The truth is I was up against an opponent who in the next five to 10 years will be fighting for the most important titles so I’m very happy to have won,’ Nadal said.
Meanwhile officials have reacted angrily to Ilie Nastase being invited to present the women’s trophy in Madrid to Simona Halep.
Nastase is under an interim ban following his behaviour at last month’s Fed Cup tie between Romania and Great Britain, when he swore at Anne Keothavong and made a racist comment about Serena Williams’s unborn baby.
Steve Simon, head of the Women’s Tennis Association, said of Nastase: ‘We revoked his credentials privileges at WTA events while the investigation is being completed.
It was both irresponsible and unacceptable of the Madrid Open to bestow on him an official role.’