What does Rafael Nadal's latest title mean?

What does Rafael Nadal's latest title mean?

The Spaniard consolidated his flying start to the clay-court season by taking a record-extending fifth Madrid Open title on Sunday, battling past an impressive Dominic Thiem to win 7-6 (10-8) 6-4.

Nadal has now equalled Novak Djokovic's record of most Masters 1000 titles won, having picked up his 30th crown at that level on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Thiem was playing in his first Masters 1000 final, but the Austrian hardly looked intimidated against Nadal, who was backed by a friendly Spanish crowd.

Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates with the trophy after the men's final against Austria's Dominic Thiem at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 14, 2017. Thiem again responded with a fierce battle with Nadal serving for the match but Nadal finally put him away with a forehead victor to end the 2-hour, 18-minute match. I'm going to enjoy the next hours, then I'll think about Rome.

Nadal, who ended his long winless run against Novak Djokovic in the semi-final, was the first to lose serve as Thiem moved into a 3-1 lead, but the 14-time Grand Slam champion soon hit back to restore parity. But considering we haven't seen Federer play on clay this year, and the fact that historically he gets destroyed by Nadal on clay, it seems more than likely that Nadal will sweep the clay court season this year.

Titles more important than top four to Manchester United, says Mourinho
That is no longer the case, though, much of the delight of a man who will be gracing a major final next week when United take on Ajax in the Europa League .

Thiem, now seventh on the rankings, struck the first blow by breaking Nadal's serve to move into a 3-1 first set lead. "I'm very happy for what I achieved", Nadal said.

Both had their chances in the tie-break as Thiem again fought back from 3-5 down to have two set points of his own only to be denied by two punishing Nadal forehands. But in December or January, I was not expecting to play badly, because I knew I was doing a very good off-season. "I hope to do the same in Rome". "Returning the ball is hard, especially when he hits it so high", said Nadal after the win. Basically I couldn't do the rebreak until the end of the match. Not to mention the smackdown Nadal gave Djokovic yesterday, beating him 6-2, 6-4 in a match where Nadal dictated play the entire time.

The victory is expected to boost Nadal to No. 4 in the ATP world rankings.

"It was a final of a Masters 1000, my first one, against the best player on this surface ever".

Another week on the claycourt circuit, another title for Rafael Nadal. The clear favorite for Roland Garros and having accomplished all of his immediate goals, the question now becomes if Nadal, at nearly 31, even plays Rome or elects to rest.

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