‘Calm, composed’ Novak Djokovic produces his ‘best match’ on clay this year to beat Dominic Thiem
It was a gruelling encounter as world No 1 Novak Djokovic outlasted Dominic Thiem to reach the final of the Madrid Open.
The duo slugged it out for two hours and 22 minutes before Djokovic came out on top of the 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-4) scoreline at Caja Magica.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 11, 2019
Thiem came into the match as the form player on clay as he won the Barcelona Open a fortnight ago while he also finished runner-up in Madrid the past two seasons.
Djokovic, meanwhile, crashed out in the quarter-final in Barcelona.
But it was the Serb who won the battle despite finding himself behind early on in the first set.
Thiem broke in game three, but Djokovic drew level in game six before taking the tie-breaker. It was a similar story in the second set as the Austrian broke in game six, but it was back on serve in the very next game.
Djokovic then edged ahead in game 11, but this time Thiem came back from the dead, but the Serb again won the tie-breaker.
“I played the best match of the clay-court season so far, for me, against arguably the best tennis player in the world on this surface, so far [this season],” said Djokovic. “[Dominic] had an amazing tournament in Barcelona and here he beat Roger in a thrilling match. So he was in form… I just managed to hold my nerves and play the best when it was most needed.”
He added: “In both tie-breaks I thought I was calm, I was composed, I played the right shots and I read his serve well.
“These are the fastest conditions that I’ve played in at this tournament so far. Very heavy ball from his side and next to Rafa he probably is the player with the most spin and rotation on the ball, so it’s very hard to dictate the play, stay close to the line, which was obviously the tactic coming into the match.
“I knew that I need to be closer to the line and try to dictate the play, mix up the pace. I didn’t want to give him too much time. If he has a lot of time, he is as good of a player as you can get on this surface.”
He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final after the Greek beat Rafael Nadal in the other semi-final.
More from Tennis365:
Andy Murray admits he has been telling himself each match could be his last
After completing a routine 6-3 6-2 victory – his first singles win on home soil in 1084 days – Murray became tearful in his courtside interview.
‘Each match could be my last’ – Andy Murray holds back the tears after comeback win
Andy Murray did his best to contain the well of tears after his win.
Andy Murray overcome by emotion as he makes winning return to Queen’s Club
Murray was playing first singles match on grass since 2018.
Dan Evans eyes ‘a few more wins’ at Queen’s Club after ending his long wait for a win
It was the British No 1’s first win at the venue since 2014.
Gary Neville unimpressed by double standards that will allow bigger Wimbledon crowds
Decision to allow increased capacity at Wimbledon sparked claims of double standards.
‘Fresh, clever, calm’ Novak Djokovic favourite to win Wimbledon and US Open, according to Mats Wilander
Novak Djokovic “looks scary good and motivated”, says Mats Wilander.
‘My Wimbledon goals are high, they have to be high, or I wouldn’t be playing,’ says Roger Federer
“The season starts around now,” says Roger Federer.
Exclusive – Ex-British No 1 admits Andy Murray is not in control of his own destiny this summer
Andy Murray will return to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs.
Wimbledon finals to be played in front of capacity stadium after change in guidelines
Wimbledon officials are preparing to welcome bigger than expected crowds.
Heather Watson battles past Viktorija Golubic at Birmingham’s Viking Classic
Heather Watson set up a clash against Shuai Zhang.