Thiem dethrones 11-time champion Nadal to reach Barcelona final

Wednesday, 01 May, 2019

"He's a great guy and great player and I'm happy for him".

"Today I played at a good level, it was a great improvement on last week, when I was not competitive at all". Other winners include both Roger Federer and Andy Murray - august company indeed.

The 21-year-old Japanese was scheduled to play a semi-final against Estonian eighth seed Anett Kontaveit, but announced in the afternoon that she would be unable to play.

The task on this occasion fell to Dominic Thiem, and what a task: Nadal was 61-3 in the tournament and going for his 12th title; had a career record of 421-37on clay-a 92 percent success rate; and owned a tally of 57 clay titles. Backhand? Forehand? Perfect shot placement?

The 6-4, 6-4 scoreline belies how one-sided the match really was.

Now, the 17-time Grand Slam champion will be looking to recover his normally unstoppable form on clay before next month's French Open, which he has also won 11 times. I'm feeling strong physically and mentally. In the ninth game, Nadal recovered from 0-15 to reach 40-15 and held to reduce tally.

In the semifinal, he topped Pierre-Hugues Herbert of France 6-2, 6-2 in just an hour.

Nadal's loss on Saturday is not only an indicator of the King of Clay's grip on the surface easing; it is also one of to Thiem's emerging ascendancy on it. The top seed then broke Mayer once in the second set and twice in the third to close out the match 6-4, 6-2. His performances at Indian Wells and now in Barcelona should prove that definitively.

Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem have played each other once in the past.

Apart from his French Open final previous year, where he lost to Nadal, Thiem has reached 18 finals on the ATP Tour since going pro. Medvedev won 87% of his service games and 19% of his return games to ensure passage into the final. This marks the fourth time that Thiem has beaten Nadal on a clay court. Nadal saved the first with an ace, but not the second, and it seemed as though the air had been sucked from the Rafa Nadal Arena as silence greeted the break.

Nadal will meet Jan-Lennard Struff in the last eight after the German claimed his second big scalp of the week by overcoming last year's finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4 3-6 6-2 after knocking out 10th seed David Goffin the day before.

It may be a bit early to write off Rafael Nadal from the French Open entirely.

Looking to watch (and bet) on the Nadal v Thiem live streaming online? "Happy of course for the victory but very sad to say goodbye to one good friend and one friend (with whom) we shared all of these things".

Nadal will now head into May with a clay title or any title on the year for the first time since 2004.

It really does appear that Dominic Thiem has found that flawless balance right now. He placed his pink headband on the court as a mark that he had played his last match here.