Novak Djokovic will play Stefanos Tsitsipas for the Madrid Open title after the 20-year-old Greek stunned Rafael Nadal on Saturday to win a thrilling semi-final 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 on his fourth match point.
Nadal had been a clear favourite to face Djokovic in Sunday’s showpiece at Caja Magica but the 17-time Grand Slam champion extended his stuttering build-up to the French Open with another surprise defeat.
Czech 10th seed Petra Kvitova won the Madrid Open title for the third time on Saturday with a marathon 7-6 (8/6), 4-6, 6-3 victory over Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands.
Kvitova, who was also the champion in Madrid in 2011 and 2015, has now claimed four titles in 2018 after triumphs in St Petersburg, Doha and last weekend in Prague.
Victory, on a chilly, damp night in the Spanish capital, took Kvitova two hours and 51 minutes against a gutsy, unseeded Bertens who had knocked out former world number ones Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki on her way to the championship match.
In a big-hitting, roller-coaster of a final, Kvitova claimed her 24th career title on the back of 39 winners and 58 unforced errors.
Bertens, who had won five of her previous six finals, including on clay in Charleston earlier this year, led 4-2 with a break in the first set before Kvitova roared back, retrieving the break in the next game.
The Czech claimed the 74-minute opener on a third set point.
Bertens carved out the only break in the seventh game of the second set to level the contest.
She then fell 2-4 down in the decider before bravely hitting straight back but in a thrilling finale, Kvitova dug deep to break again for 5-3 before a love service hold gave her victory and an 11th successive match win.
Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Madrid Open on Wednesday as the 12-time grand slam champion lost in three sets to Britain’s Kyle Edmund.
Edmund had not taken a set off Djokovic in three previous meetings but the Serb is still feeling the effects of elbow surgery and his 23-year-old opponent took full advantage.
Djokovic stormed through the second set on the Manolo Santana court and, at his best, might never have looked back, but he spurned three break points early in the decider and Edmund pounced to win 6-3 2-6 6-3.
This was only the third time Edmund had beaten a player ranked as high as world number 12 and in terms of status, Djokovic is by far his biggest scalp yet.
Edmund’s barnstorming forehand wreaked havoc throughout and it was no surprise when the winners tally showed the Briton 30-11 ahead by the time Djokovic sent a final backhand long.
Belgium’s David Goffin, whom Edmund lost to on clay during Britain’s run to Davis Cup glory in 2015, now awaits in the last 16.
Djokovic, meanwhile, is left reviewing another early exit ahead of the French Open later this month. The 30-year-old has shown glimpses of his best this week but those moments have still been few and far between.
Serving to stay in the opening set, he played a dreadful game and, with three set points, Edmund took the first when a driving return caught the line.
Djokovic seemed hungrier in the second and was in charge from the moment he broke Edmund to lead 2-0. Another break at 4-2 meant the match would be settled in a third set.
Edmund came back from 0-40 down in the fourth game and it proved a pivotal moment as he then broke himself for 5-3 when a Djokovic forehand looped long.
Djokovic was cursing his luck after a couple of awkward bounces but Edmund would not be distracted, serving out a superb victory after an hour and 42 minutes.
Rafael Nadal consolidated his flying start to the clay-court season by taking a record-extending fifth Madrid Open title on Sunday, battling past a determined Dominic Thiem to win 7-6(10-8) 6-4.
The Spaniard, who snapped a seven-match losing streak against Novak Djokovic to win their semi-final on Saturday, was given a much sterner test by Thiem than in last month’s final of the Barcelona Open.
Nadal had easily beaten Thiem 6-4 6-1 in Barcelona but got an early scare when he was broken in Sunday’s third game, soon falling 3-1 behind as the Austrian held.
Nadal broke back to win the sixth game and earned three set points at 5-4 but world number nine, Thiem, saved each one to eventually hold and force the tie-break.
The pair stayed neck and neck until Thiem lost his nerve and made two unforced errors in a row, gifting Nadal the set.
The 14-time grand-slam winner broke in the opening game of the second set and saved a break point in the next, maintaining a two-game advantage until a thrilling 10th game.
The 23-year-old Thiem earned two break points which Nadal saved to move within a point of the title.
Thiem resisted three championship points but Nadal seized the fourth with a drop shot to the back of the court to clinch his third consecutive clay-court crown, after winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in April, and the 72nd tournament win of his career.
“The truth is I was up against an opponent who in the next five to 10 years will be fighting for the most important titles so I’m very happy to have won; it was a very exciting game,” Nadal told Television Espanola.
“It was a very important final for both of us – for him as it was the first in the Masters 1000 and for me it’s always special to play here in Madrid in this unique tournament. You never know when it might be the last so I always try to enjoy it.”
Rafael Nadal has defeated old foe, Novak Djokovic, to reach the final of the Madrid Open.
Nadal had overcome David Goffin 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Friday to reach the semi-finals, while defending champion Novak Djokovic strolled to the semis after Kei Nishikori pulled out of the tournament due to a wrist injury.
Despite enjoying a longer rest, the Serb fell to Nadal in straights sets. and will face either Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas in the final on Sunday.
Nadal, who won 6-2 6-4, will face either Dominic Thiem or Pablo Cuevas in the final on Sunday.
The Spaniard, who had battled injuries in recent years, has enjoyed a resurgence in his career and claimed a historic 10th Monte Carlo Masters in April.
Djokovic, on the other hand, fired his entire coaching staff ahead of the Madrid Open following a poor run of form.
He lost his world number one title to Andy Murray, who has also struggled recently, in November 2016. And he crashed out of the Monte-Carlo Masters in the quarter-finals.
Rafael Nadal, winner of both the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open in April, was practising on the training court in Madrid on Saturday (May 6) for the Madrid Open tournament.
The Spaniard was watched by a sizable number of spectators as he served and volleyed on the training court.
Nadal is fourth seed for the tournament, behind Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, but he has had a most successful 2017 so far.
Apart from his three titles in Monaco, Barcelona, and Brisbane, Nadal reached the finals at Miami, Indian Wells and the Australian Open – losing to Roger Federer in all three – and Acapulco, where he lost to big serving Sam Querrey.
Defending champion Andy Murray marched into the final of the Madrid Open after defeating home favourite Rafa Nadal for the second successive year.
The British world number 2 ended Nadal’s 13-match unbeaten run on clay after looking back to his best on his favoured surface with victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in recent weeks.
Murray sealed a devastating 7-5 6-4 victory to send him through to Sunday’s final where he will play world number one, Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic was made to sweat before overcoming Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 in 1 hour 59 minutes on Saturday.
The 2011 champion escaped early trouble, coming under pressure in his first three service games when Nishikori claimed 14 of the first 19 baseline points and registered the first 10 winners of the match.
But Djokovic would survive in the ensuing tie-break, converting his fifth match point for the victory.
Murray, who has won seven of his last eight matches on clay, needs to win the title to avoid being overtaken by Roger Federer in the rankings.