Rafael Nadal‘s lengthy clay court winning streak may face it’s toughest test on Friday evening when he takes on Dominic Thiem for a place in the semi finals. Nadal has won 21 straight matches on the surface since losing in straight sets to the Austria, a result which itself broke a 17 match run. They have met since on clay though, with Nadal crushing Thiem for the loss of just two games in Monte Carlo.
Diego Schwartzman put up an admirable fight against Nadal in the previous round, keeping the score to a respectable 6-4 6-4. It was always comfortable for the World No.1, who was only broken once in the match while already up a break. The two sets won were his 49th and 50th in succession, a record for a run on any surface. However, he is not getting carried away despite the enormity of the feat. “It’s difficult to be able to win 50 sets in a row. But I’ve done it. Well, it’s done. It’s over. Let’s not talk about that any more and let’s continue on what we have ahead which is what I am concerned about” he said.
Thiem had a much tougher time, coming from a set down to beat the in-form Borna Coric 2-6 7-6 6-4. The Croatian had served for the match at 5-4 while Thiem also had to save break points down 4-3 in the deciding set. “From this moment on [4-5, second set] actually I picked up my game… In the close moments and the third set, I played my best tennis… It’s a great win for me. He’s in a terrific form.” he said of Coric.
Nadal is well aware of the threat Thiem poses as one of the few who have beaten on him on his favoured surface. “[It’s a] very tough match. Especially here on this surface and even more in altitude. His bounces and topspin are very high and difficult to control,” Nadal said. “I need to be ready for tomorrow. It will be a very tough match to play but it’s a good opportunity to play against one of the best players of the world.”
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in straight sets