‘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:
VIDEO and PICS: Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams among tennis stars to arrive in Australia
This way for a video and pics of arrivals in Australia.
Official insists no special Australian Open treatment for Andy Murray after positive COVID-19 result
Andy Murray warned he won’t get preferential treatment.
Madison Keys latest player to miss Australian Open charter flight after testing positive for coronavirus
Madison Keys unlikely to play at Australian Open.
Andy Murray in race against time to play at Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19
Andy Murray tests positive for coronavirus – report.
Andy Murray Australian Open appearance in doubt after positive test for Covid
Murray is hoping to be able to arrive in Australia at a later date.
Dominic Thiem’s coach tests positive for COVID-19, but hopes to link up with Austrian ‘soon’
Nicolas Massu hopes to fly Down Under in a few weeks.
‘It feels great,’ says Hubert Hurkacz after starting 2021 with Delray Beach Open trophy
Hubert Hurkacz captures second ATP Tour title.
Australian Open drama as player reveals he was allowed to board flight despite positive COVID-19 test
Tennys Sandgren allowed to fly despite positive test.
Rafael Nadal suffers Australian Open setback as his coach Carlos Moya opts not to travel Down Under
Carlos Moya won’t be in Rafael Nadal’s box.
Notable Australian Open qualifiers: From Tsvetana Pironkova and Francesca Jones to Bernard Tomic
Oli Jefford on the notable Australian Open qualifiers.