Nadal ends Djokovic hoodoo to reach another Madrid final

Djokovic's game was getting better by this time. While he was serving with the table at 4-2 in Nadal's favor, Novak dropped a ball at the net like a master.

However finally Djokovic found a groove with his serve, held to love, and then swung a couple of fine backhand down-the-line shots and a return-of-serve victor for deuce against Nadal.

Djokovic called Nadal "the big favorite" in Paris, though Nadal, who famously avoids looking past the next match in front of him, downplayed the press making him the leader in the clubhouse. Nadal pulled off a running forehand victor, and Djokovic hit wide to concede the break again. Coric is no slouch on clay and has beaten Murray before - this time, several called Coric, a member of the ATP NextGen, the superior player for the match.

Djokovic had gone on to win a first emotional but exhausting French Open, and the effort of doing so, and of maintaining his No1 ranking for over two years, took its toll.

Indeed, even with Djokovic opening serve, Nadal won the first four points for an immediate break, helped by a couple of uncharacteristic errors from the Serb. This was Nadal's 32nd victory that set him up with the defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semis.

Djokovic didn't have to play the quarterfinal in Madrid because Kei Nishikori withdrew before the match because of a wrist injury. And this 50th meeting was, of course, to be played both on clay and in front of an adoring Spanish Caja Magica. According to Nadal, Goffin is the kind of a player who demands the most of his opposition. Never had they taken so long for a rematch, but then it had been at Roland Garros a year ago that their paths took such contrasting directions.

He missed two match points on his serve and then had to save a break point before taking the contest at the third time of asking to reach the Madrid final for the eighth time.Nadal will play either Austrian Dominic Thiem or Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas in Sunday's final, where he will look to add to his recent triumphs in the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open.

After several La Decimas, Nadal will aim for a fifth title here - he holds the record for four, the highest of all time at the venue, so an additional win would extend his own record - and it's quite likely given how he's beeen playing.

"It was an important match for me".

"I think that the last two years perhaps haven't been my best two years".

The 29-year-old, who is now competing at the Madrid Masters, where he has already made it to the semi-finals, said that his brother, Marko, is now coaching him.

  • Stacy Allen