Flashback: Tsitsipas Stuns Nadal, Djokovic Dodges Thiem In Memorable Madrid Semis
Between a rising star’s stunner and a legend’s resurgence, nobody will soon forget semi-final Saturday from the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals champion, arrived in Spain fresh off his first ATP Tour clay-court title in Estoril. The Greek made an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final on the surface for the first time, beating Alexander Zverev in three sets to do so. But in the last four, he had to face a five-time Madrid champion: Rafael Nadal.
The Spaniard took a 3-0 lead in their ATP Head2Head series into that match, claiming all seven of their previous sets. Only two of those sets went past 6-2. But Tsitsipas immediately broke serve and never looked back, upsetting Nadal 6-4, 2-6, 6-3.
"It means the world. I'm really happy that I proved myself today. I played one of my best games this year," Tsitsipas said. "I'm really happy that I'm fighting, I'm in the zone. I'm enjoying tennis at its fullest potential. It's really nice to be able to play this way. Today's victory is just an unbelievable feeling."
In the final, Tsitsipas would meet a player who was no stranger to Masters 1000 finals: Novak Djokovic. The Serbian was World No. 1, but struggling for form entering Madrid. In his three events since the 2019 Australian Open, he had made just one quarter-final. Dominic Thiem had won five of their past six sets, and he had just won Barcelona — where he upset Nadal — before defeating Roger Federer in the Madrid quarter-finals.
But Djokovic saved seven of 10 break points while converting all three of his chances against Thiem. That proved the difference as Djokovic advanced to the championship match with a tight 7-6(2), 7-6(4) victory, snapping the Austrian’s eight-match winning streak.
"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 yesterday in a thrilling match. He was in form... I just managed to hold my nerves and play the best when it was most needed."
Djokovic defeated Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 for his third Madrid title.