Tsitsipas beats Rafa Nadal to reach Madrid final



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.

Tsitsipas’ surprise victory means he reaches his fourth ATP final of the season while vindicating those that have him circled as a future star of the men’s game.

“Emotionally it was very tough, it was one of my toughest wins,” Tsitsipas said.

It might be too early to expect the world number nine to challenge at Roland Garros later this month but, with a fearless style and formidable forehand, he is developing a habit for delivering on the big stage.

He ousted Roger Federer from the Australian Open in January and, as well as Nadal, has beaten Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem, both twice, and Djokovic, whom he played on hard in Canada last year and prevailed in three sets.

Tsitsipas will draw confidence from that result ahead of the final but arguably even more so from overcoming Nadal, on clay, which Djokovic had earlier described as the “ultimate challenge” following his own 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/4) victory over Dominic Thiem.

By his own high standards, Nadal’s clay-court swing has been disappointing.

He lost in the last four in both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, arriving in Madrid without winning either tournament for the first time since 2015.

“I have not played well enough,” admitted Nadal. “I’ve won a lot for many years on this surface but this year it hasn’t been like that.”

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