Nadal Ends 3 Years Winless Streak Vs Djokovic to Reach Madrid Final
Rafael Nadal is near his best again, and he showed it with an emphatic win over a rival he hadn't beaten in three years.
Nadal ended his seven-match winless streak against Novak Djokovic with a 6-2, 6-4 win that put him in the Madrid Open final again on Saturday.
Nadal overpowered Djokovic, and converted on his third match point to earn his first victory against the second-ranked Serb since the 2014 French Open final. Nadal had lost 15 straight sets against Djokovic, and won only one of the last 12 matches against him in four years.
"To beat an opponent such as Novak, it gives you a lot of confidence. It shows you you're working in the right way," said Nadal, who has thrived after two years struggling with his game.
On the women's side, Simona Halep of Romania won her second straight Madrid title by defeating Kristina Mladenovic of France 7-5, 6-7 (5), 6-2 in nearly three hours, becoming the first player to successfully defend the title since Serena Williams in 2013.
"I feel great that I could defend this title," Halep said. "It means a lot because it gives me confidence for the bigger tournaments."
It was the first title of the season for the eighth-ranked Halep, who was the first player to make it to three Madrid finals. She lost to Maria Sharapova in 2014.
Mladenovic was in her second straight final, and fourth of the year. She won her first career title in St. Petersburg in February.
It was another categorical win for Nadal in what has been a superb season for the fifth-ranked Spaniard, who will be trying to win his third straight title on Sunday. He can also tie Djokovic with 30 titles in Masters 1000 events.
It was Nadal's 14th straight victory, and his tour-leading 33rd for the year.
The four-time Madrid champion will play the title game against ninth-ranked Dominic Thiem of Austria, who ousted Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-4, 6-4.
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