Nadal's record run ends

MADRID • It was a double whammy for Rafael Nadal on Friday. Not only did he suffer his first clay-court defeat in almost a year, but the loss also meant Roger Federer will reclaim the world No. 1 ranking tomorrow.

But Nadal had no excuses after his shock 5-7, 3-6 upset by Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

"I haven't been good enough today," the defending champion said. "He (Thiem) was better than me. End of the story. Some days, you don't play as good as you would like to play. Also when that happens, it's because your opponent is doing really well."

The Spaniard, whose record 50-set winning streak on clay was ended by his fifth-seeded opponent, had praise for Thiem.

"A player like Dominic has a lot of potential. Whenever he plays really well, it's very difficult to stop him," admitted Nadal.

The world No. 7 finished runner-up to Nadal at the previous Madrid edition, and was the last player to beat the "King of Clay" on his favourite surface at last year's Italian Open.

Nadal, a five-time Madrid winner, is bidding for an 11th French Open title in Paris later this month and had won his previous 21 matches on clay.

"It takes a really good match to beat Rafa on clay. A very important thing also was today that I went in with the positive attitude that I can beat him," said the 24-year-old Thiem, after he joined Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Argentina's Gaston Gaudio as just the third man to have beaten Nadal three times on clay.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 13, 2018, with the headline 'Nadal's record run ends'. Print Edition | Subscribe