PHOTOS: Dominic Thiem ends Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten run on clay

(AFP) – Rafael Nadal suffered a shock 7-5 6-3 defeat by Austrian Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Open quarter-finals on Friday, a result that means the Spaniard will lose the world number one ranking.

Thiem, who lost to Rafa in the Monte Carlo quarter-finals last month, was the last player to beat the Spaniard on clay – at last year’s Rome Masters.

Rafa had set a record of winning 50 consecutive sets on a single surface by beating Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Thursday.

The 24-year-old Thiem broke Madrid title holder Rafa’s serve five times before sealing victory with a powerful cross-court winner in just under two hours.

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31 thoughts on “PHOTOS: Dominic Thiem ends Rafael Nadal’s unbeaten run on clay

  1. Jeffrey Tuller

    Rafa was definetly sluggish yesterday . The match was decided when Rafa netted 2 overhand smashes and losing his service gamr after breaking Thiem to tie the match at 4-4 . I was really surprised and disappointed with those 2 errors as it was very unlike Rafa to blow this opportunity to go up 5-4 .I look forward to Rafa playing better and more confidently in Rome . Vamos Rafa .

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  2. I can’t stop thinking about what Rafa said after his win against Diego, “He was hitting well, hitting stronger, I played a little bit more nervous than usual PROBABLY BECAUSE HE PLAYED WELL.”

    Dominic went into the QF with the belief that if anyone could beat Rafa on clay it would be at Madrid and Rome. Playing without errors, and playing his best tennis. And the BELIEF that he could win. Tennis is a physical as well as a psychological game.

    I don’t think Rafa was tired yesterday. When last did he play a 3-setter since the AO? He didn’t finish the AO, he didn’t play Mexico, or IW, or Miami as he did last year. And we know of his 3X10th wins last year on clay. Fabulous!

    If someone beats Rafa, regardless of surface, I want the win to be due to his opponent’s better play, and not because of Rafa’s lack of confidence.

    As Navdeep said, Rafa could have had an off day. I hope that’s all it was as anyone can have an off day.

    RAFA ALWAYS ROCKS

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elaine Crowder

    Well Maybe Rafa was feeling quite tired after all his straight victories, and yesterday wasn’t his day.

    We do expect a lot from him, match after match to just keep firing on all cylinders.

    Rafa do have a rest before Rome, and I am sure you will regroup with Carlos and team to help you with the positives.

    Love and prayers,

    AlaineXXSydneyXXAustraliaXX

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gold Wolf

    Rafa looked tired today. His forehand didn’t zip. He looked SLOW. His balls dropped near the service line. What the hell?

    But absolutely credit where credit was due. Dominick Thiem Played lights out. His balls were cannon like. His precision was surgical. He would have given in form Rafa a run for his money today.

    I hope Rafa wins Rome and gets back #1 next week. I want him to be the top seed at Wimbledon and at least second seed, but doubt that will happen due to Wimbledon seeding. Cilic might get the #2 seed if you can believe that. Cilic over Rafa??? That’s crazy but notnout of the ball park.

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  5. Ana maria

    Rafa you are ahúman bin not a machine ,today it was nor your day it’s ok we love you any way you are the best player on Clay no one have 10 French winners we love your fans for ever 🎾🎾🎾❤️❤️❤️🎾🎾🎾❤️❤️❤️🎾🎾🎾❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

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  6. Amelia Chilleron Hellin

    Siempre contigo!!!!!!! VAMOS RAFA..otra vez serà….t admiro esa capacidad para aguantar y ganar tantas victorias…alguna derrota tiene k haber…en tu proximo torneo lo conseguiràs xk tu lo vales…no hay nadie como tù…pero estas muy bien y competitivo…..SIEMPRE CONTIGO RAFA

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  7. brabantia2

    Why does roger deaerve to be number when he has not played the  clay court season.  That stinks. Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

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  8. Lorna

    I don’t think we realise just how super human the task was for Rafa to win 50
    straight sets on clay. As fans, we’d like to see Rafa go on and on but, as we know, all winning streaks have to come to an end at some point. Rafa lost because of a combination of reasons. First of all, he didn’t reckon on Thiem playing so well (very few unforced errors) which made Rafa nervous, so he was dropping the ball short, missing easy shots and his forehand didn’t have its usual potency. Interestingly, Anabel Croft mentioned that Thiem had lost early in the last few tournaments which meant he was the fresher of the two. This said, take nothing away from Thiem. He was up for the fight, played lights out tennis and deserved the win. The stats told the story.

    On the positive side, this loss will give Rafa a bit more time to rest and regroup for Rome. He’ll certainly need to be sharper and fearless to fend off the power tennis of Thiem and those like him there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. va4favre

      Lorna, I agree with all of your comments. I also wonder if the weigh of the straight sets record did not weigh on Rafa, despite what he said to the contrary? I am happy he has it, and can now move on. More rest before Rome will be good. The draw in Rome is out, and Rafa has Thiem again as a possible opponent in the quarters if they both get there.

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    2. Jean Sober

      I agree with Mac. I don’t agree about the 50 sets being super human. Rafa clearly agrees with me on that too. These 50 sets were interrupted by three quarters of a season. 50 sets in a row in general is more impressive and match winning streaks are too of course. It is all about the majors. Can we for once agree on that.

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      1. Lorna

        Jean, I take your point, but I think it is still remarkable that Rafa has won so many consecutive sets on clay without being seriously challenged until today and that’s impressive for me. It’s more about the one particular surface than an interrupted streak. I use the phrase “super human” to emphasise the fact that no one has come anywhere near to matching this feat. Of course Rafa will be disappointed by the loss today, but he is also realistic. In one sense this loss will only motivate him even more for Rome and the bigger prize of RG.

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      2. Lorna

        Jean, I take your point, but I think it is still remarkable that Rafa has won so many consecutive sets on clay without being seriously challenged until today. It shows his consistency and dominance on that surface and that’s impressive for me. It’s more about the one particular surface than an uninterrupted streak. I use the phrase “super human” to emphasize the fact that no one has come anywhere near to matching this feat. Of course, Rafa will be disappointed by the loss today, but he is also realistic. In one sense, this loss will only motivate him even more for Rome and the bigger prize of RG.

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  9. Rafa fan 1

    Sorry to say Rafa’s self confidence is very fragile. He wasn’t playing as well in Madrid as in the ones before and against Thiem …. not at all well. He looked nervous to say the least and this in turn constricted his movement and stopped him from playing his shots freely and from any strategic thinking.

    Really gutted but as long as he returns with confidence …. Thiem should not become his nemisis on clay.

    Rafa we are all behind you! You can do it!!!! Please have self belief!!!!

    VAMOS

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Mac

    Rafa needs to rest and reset for the charge at RG. I’m quite relieved actually that he has lost now.

    Is Thiem a better player than Rafa? Of course not. But today he outclassed Rafa. Same happened in Rome last year, yet Rafa steamrolled him at RG.

    This loss will create some perspective and foster some hunger in Rafa. RG11 will not come easy. But it will happen, barring any bizarre circumstances.

    I think of Djokovic who was undefeated in 2011 until he got beaten in the RG semis by Federer. I’d rather Rafa lose today, than at RG in a few weeks time.

    Good luck to Thiem in his next matches. Well deserved.

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  11. mjus

    this loss is a wake up call for rafa. Thiem played exactly the same as he did in Rome. I dont think that Thiem can threaten nadal in Paris because in paris its best of five. However Nadal should play well in Rome in order to go to paris with positive feelings.

    Nadal and we as fans also got a little bit complacent. So in one way this loss is good. Keep one thing in mind. Nadal had a complete off day today but also yesterday against shwarzmann. Also Nadal crushed him in monte carlo.

    One positive point of this weekend is that he has the record. Thiem will never be able to win 50 sets in a row on clay impossible. Also Nadal has some rest untill Rome begins.

    I hope the both of them will meet in Rome again.

    I still believe rafa will win the french open but he will not get it for .free. Also Thiem will lose in the

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    1. Jean Sober

      The record that nobody even knew existed and of which nobody even knew that Johnny Mac held it since 1984 after some years in which apparently Mac won a lot on carpet. That record. Well yes let’s really treasure it. Can I put RG no. 11 as the second biggest target for the season?

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    1. Gold Wolf

      He needs to win rome. There’s a week in between the French. I want him to have at least the 2nd seed at Wimbledon. I don’t want him facing Roger in the semis or QF’s of Wimbledon. Rafa Plays his best in the final rounds. Roger will kick his ass before the final. Rafa has a shot in the final.

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  12. No importa mi Nadal en el Italian se que te recuperaras en realidad estuviste nervioso y eso colaboro a tu perdida. Vamos Rafa asi es el juego unas veces se gana y otras se pierde.

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    1. Gold Wolf

      He was bad…. he was not injured. Thiem Played VERY Well. He can still regain #1 through the summer if he wins Rome but he has to defend the French. If he only gets to the final Rome, he’ll have to win Queens after defending The French because Roger can’t gain anymore point with his schedule till after Wimbledon… Rafa could gain lots of points at Wimbledon too if he gets past the 4th round where he lost last year to Muller. If Roger was to get the top seed at the USO he has to win Canada because he got to the final there last year and Cincinnati he could gain 1000 points. But Rafa can gain a bunch of points after the French to The USO because his summer sucked last year. The race for year end #1 is heating up.

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  13. Jean Sober

    Good clean win by Thiem. Rafa started nervous and hardly played at his best during any period of the match. Thiem was sharp most of the time but gave Rafa several opportunities to get back in it. An insecure Rafa was unable to do so. In a way, the hype after wins in DC, MC and Barca plus the 50 set winning streak, got everyone a bit over the top regarding Rafas’s RG 11th bid. He played some great tennis this season but he is not the only one. Thiem really wants it and is the challenger at RG this year. Rome will tell us more about who is the biggest fav this year. An old saying in tennis regarding Madrid and Rome: it’s in Madrid and Rome where real form must be shown. Much more important than MC and Barca, folks. Rafa needs to win Rome if he is to be no. 1 during RG if I am not mistaken. Vamos Rafa, on to Rome and take some rest.

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    1. va4favre

      Jean, I share your view that Rafa looked nervous from the start. I will be curious to hear what he says in his presser. I do not expect Rafa to win every match; that is not realistic. I would want to know why he was off the entire match. That is more the concern than his losing toThiem who was in a zone the entire match.

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    2. luckystar

      Doesn’t matter Rafa is no.1 or no.2 at the FO, the rankings doesn’t matter much. Thiem wasn’t playing well at the start of the clay season and he was imo horrible in his first match here at Madrid and barely squeezed past Coric.

      It’s more to do with Rafa playing horribly when everything wasn’t clicking for him – serve was horrible, FH beyond horrible, poor timing of net approaches, wrong shot selections, and worst overhead smash I’ve seen from him in a long time! Imo, he had too much respect for Thiem’s power and was playing nervously.

      He was playing the wrong way vs Thiem, getting into long baseline rallies isn’t the right way to play these younger and more powerful opponents; they’re now overpowering him physically. He should move inside the court, hit some drop shots, some slices to slow down Thiem’s pace, instead he just rallied with Thiem from well behind the baseline and hoping that Thiem would make errors, not happening when Thiem was given so much space to work with.

      Thiem wasn’t really a precision hitter, if you rush him he would make errors. The problem with Rafa here was that he wasn’t confident about his own game when his FH failed him here at Madrid, not difficult to see that he’s nervous and couldn’t think clearly or calmly out there. He couldn’t even trust his own game hence making those uncharacteristic errors, esp after Thiem gifted him the game when serving for the first set yet Rafa made all those unforgivable errors in a row to return the gift to Thiem, simply atrocious play from Rafa!

      To me, if Rafa wishes to win the title at Madrid going forward, he has to play the more aggressive HC game there at Madrid; the Madrid clay surface rewards hard hitting players. Rafa could win in the past because he’s exceptional but as he ages he’ll find it more difficult to play the clay court game to win on Madrid fast HC like clay surface.

      The remaining players in the draw, they’re all big servers and hard hitters.

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