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Nadal in the midst of worst clay run in 15 years after semi-final Madrid loss to Tsitsipas

Andrew Hendrie in ATP Tour 12 May 2019
  • Nadal lost in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters to Tsitsipas on Saturday
  • It's the third straight tournament where Nadal has been knocked out in the semi-finals
  • The Spaniard has now failed to reach a clay final through to the first week of May for the first time since 2004
Rafael Nadal (PA Images)

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal isn’t panicking ahead of the upcoming French Open despite suffering his worst run of form on clay in 15 years.

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Nadal lost in the semi-finals for the third consecutive clay-court tournament on Saturday when he went down in three sets to rising World No. 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Madrid Masters, following on from final four exits to Fabio Fognini and Dominic Thiem in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona respectively last month.

It’s the first time since 2004 that Nadal hasn’t made the final of a clay-court event through the opening week of May. At that stage, Nadal was only 18 years of age and just making the full-time transition to the ATP World Tour.

“I have not played well enough,” Nadal conceded after his 6-4 2-6 6-3 loss to Tsitsipas. “I’ve won a lot for many years on this surface but this year it hasn’t been like that.”
“What happened tonight is what happens in real life. What happened in the last 14 years on clay is not the normality.
"I didn't have a good feeling today to do the things I wanted to do and that's all. I was clear what I had to do today, but tonight I wasn't capable of doing it."

Nadal also went on to declare that he wouldn’t have lost to Tsitsipas if he played like he did in the Barcelona final last year, or the Australian Open semi-finals in January, where the Spaniard earned convincing straight sets wins in each.




Meanwhile, Tsitsipas claimed arguably the best win of his young career, wrestling back the momentum after losing the second set and securing his first win over Nadal in spectacular fashion.

“I’m really happy that I managed to keep my nerves down and fight back. Probably one of the toughest victories I’ve had in my life,” Tsitsipas said. “Adding variety and being unpredictable was the key today.
“I really liked my fighting spirit,” he added. “I went on the court and I was mentally prepared for a fight.”

Tsitsipas has the most wins out of anyone on tour so far in 2019 with 27 and can become the first player to win three titles this year when he meets World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the Madrid final after the Serbian beat Barcelona champion Dominic Thiem in two tiebreaks earlier on Saturday.

The 20-year-old beat Djokovic in their only previous clash on his way to the Canada Masters final last year.

"I have to play the same way. I have to be mentally prepared for a tough match,” said Tsitsipas, who is now the youngest player to complete a set of wins over Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer. “He's in a pretty good state of his tennis, so it won't be easy. He had some good matches coming into the final, so I'm going to have to be ready for that match. “I’m sure he wants the title as badly as me."


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Nadal in the midst of worst clay run in 15 years after semi-final Madrid loss to Tsitsipas

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal isn’t panicking ahead of the upcoming French Open despite suffering his worst run of form on clay in 15 years.

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