Dominic Thiem ends Rafael Nadal’s 17-win streak in Rome triumph

(Eurosport) – Seven-time champion Rafael Nadal is out of the Italian Open after a straight-set defeat by Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals. It is Rafa’s first defeat of the season on clay and only the third and fourth sets that he has dropped on clay across the entire season. It also brings to an end Rafa’s run of 17 straight victories.

The Austrian was dominant in the opening set as he raced into a 5-1 lead. Rafa regained some composure and managed to fight back to 5-4 but he couldn’t prevent Thiem taking the set. The pair served out the opening six games of the second but Rafa found a break and hold in the seventh and eighth to open up a 5-3 lead. He then break Rafa’s service game again to secure a memorable victory.

Source: Eurosport

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Rafael Nadal through in Rome after Nicolas Almagro retires

(AP) — Rafael Nadal’s winning streak was extended to 16 matches when Nicolas Almagro retired in the first set on Wednesday at the Italian Open.

Rafa was leading 3-0, 15-30 when Almagro bent over and grasped his left knee. Our champ went over to Almagro’s side of the net to ask what was wrong and consoled his opponent. Almagro then got some medical attention at his chair but quickly retired from the second-round match.

Rafa has won consecutive clay-court tournaments in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid. He’s aiming for an eighth title at the Foro Italico as he prepares for the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks.

Rafa will next face either 13th-seeded Jack Sock or Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic.

Source: The Associated Press

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal to face Novak Djokovic after Madrid Open win over David Goffin

(AP) – Rafael Nadal booked a semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic at the Madrid Open after a comfortable last-eight win over David Goffin on Friday.

Rafa took just under two hours to see off the Belgian 7-6(3), 6-2 and move closer to a third straight title after wins in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

But if he is to progress Rafa must get the better of Djokovic, who eased into the semi-finals after scheduled opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew with a wrist injury.

Our champ claimed the first break in the second game of the second set and maintained his recent momentum to earn what was ultimately a comfortable win.

After the match, Rafa said:

It was a beautiful game, we both played at the very highest level and there were great points for everyone to see.

He (Goffin) demands the most of you, he’s one of the best in the world, one of the candidates to win the most important trophies.

I knew I was playing well in the first set but I just couldn’t take my chances. Winning is very important but also the way I’m playing at the moment makes me very relaxed.

Source: AP

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal Makes Winning Start in Monte Carlo

(AP) — Defending champion Rafael Nadal withstood a determined comeback from Britain’s Kyle Edmund to win 6-0, 5-7, 6-3 in the second round of the Monte Carlo Masters on Wednesday.

The fourth-seeded Rafa is aiming for a 10th title in Monte Carlo and looked to be coasting until Edmund found his range with huge forehands. The third set was intense, with three straight breaks of serve from 2-2, until the nine-time French Open champion drew on his vastly superior experience on clay.

Rafa’s relief was evident when he secured victory on his first match point.

After Edmund patted a return into the net, Rafa tilted his head back and raised his arms in the air. The next match could be tough, too.

He faces 14th-seeded Alexander Zverev, the 19-year-old German who pushed him to five sets in the third round at this year’s Australian Open.

Rafael Nadal defeats Jack Sock to reach Miami Open semi-finals

Four-time Miami Open runner-up Rafael Nadal advanced to the semifinals by beating American Jack Sock 6-2, 6-3. His next opponent will be Fabio Fognini.

Rafa committed only 12 unforced errors against the No. 13-seeded Sock, rallied from a break down in the second set and improved his lifetime record against Americans to 60-9. Our champ was able to save six of seven break points earned by Sock as he kept control of the contest.

Rafa has never won in Miami despite being a four-time finalist, and his win opens up the possibility of a meeting in the final with Roger Federer.

Sources: AP/AFP

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal beats Nicolas Mahut to reach last eight in Miami

Rafael Nadal advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open following a routine straight set win over Nicolas Mahut on Tuesday.

Rafa was simply too good for Mahut, taking never facing a breakpoint in his 6-4, 7-6(4) win on the hard courts of Miami.

Rafa put together a near perfect display, notching up 26 winners and just 11 unforced errors and was easily able to counter Mahut’s serve and volley game plan.

The opening set was a tight one, with neither earning a breakpoint until the ninth game, where an error gave Rafa an opportunity. Rafa did not need a second invitation and broke to go 5-4 up, after which he served out the set in dominant fashion.

The second set unfolded in a similar vein, with the duo swapping service games until the tiebreaker. But as per usual, Rafa was superb in the big moments and moved to a 5-2 lead before taking the set and the match.

Rafa will face rising star Jack Sock in the quarter-finals.

Source: Fox News

PHOTOS: Rafael Nadal enjoys a win in his 1000th career match

Rafael Nadal celebrated his 1,000th tour level match with a come-from-behind victory over German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber to reach the fourth round of the Miami Open on Sunday.

World number 31 Kohlschreiber was on fire early, ripping through the first set in only 21 minutes but Rafa flipped the switch and turned the match on its head to prevail 0-6 6-2 6-3 on the main stadium hard court at Crandon Park.

It was the first time Rafa had failed to win a game in the first set of an ATP tour match since 2008, the ATP said.

Rafa ignited the near-capacity crowd with a typically determined comeback to clinch his 822nd career victory. He joins a small group of 11 players headed by Jimmy Connors (1,535) to have played at least 1,000 matches.

One thousand matches is a lot of matches. Obviously that’s good news because that says I am having a long career. During a lot of years, I heard that I’m going to have a short career, so it’s something important for me. I remember the first match very well because it was at home in Mallorca. It was my first victory on the ATP and was a great feeling.

Rafa said he had not done much wrong in the first set against an opponent who was in the zone.

He was doing everything good, so that’s sport. I lose the set because he was playing too good. That’s it. But a match is long and the positive thing is I held the pressure well this afternoon after a very tough first set. I resisted well in the first few games of the second set and then I think I played a great second and third set.

Source: Reuters