Nadal's clay court streak ends; Federer set for return to No. 1

For Thiem, it was his third career win over Nadal and puts him into his first Masters semi since Rome, and first European clay semi since the French.

Rafael Nadal suffered his first clay-court defeat in nearly a year when the world number one was shocked 7-5, 6-3 by Austria's Dominic Thiem in the Madrid Masters quarter-finals. Coincidentally, Nadal's last defeat on the surface had come to Thiem when the Spaniard had lost at the Rome Open quarterfinals one year ago.

With the loss to Thiem, Roger Federer will take over as the world No. 1.

Only Novak Djokovic, Gaston Gaudio, and now Thiem have beaten Nadal at least three times on the slow stuff.

Asked about Nadal's performance against Thiem, Àlex Corretja, a former captain of Spain's Davis Cup team who is now a television commentator, said, "It's clear nobody ends a record run by playing his best match, and I'm pretty sure Rafa won't count this as the day on which he was the most consistent and precise".

Thiem was utterly sensational as he powered his way to a 7-5 6-3 quarter-final victory in front of a shocked crowd at the Caja Magica.

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Anderson is just a couple of weeks older than Nadal but will get his first taste of an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final after edging out qualifier Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-3) 3-6 6-3. "Some days you don't play as good as you would like to play".

Nadal said on Thursday, after breaking John McEnroe's 1984 record for sets won on the same surface by winning his 50th straight set on clay, that he expected the match against Thiem to be "key to this tournament". It's hard to be able to win 50 sets in a row. He then took the tiebreak 8-6 on his second set point as his opponent began to leak unforced errors.

"If you want to beat him, especially on clay, you have to do something special". "He was better than me today".

"I had to play an extraordinary match, and that's what I did", Thiem assessed. He's the top seed and Thiem, the the No. 6 seed, is in his quarter.

Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens continued her remarkable run at the Madrid Open by thrashing French seventh seed Caroline Garcia to reach the womens' final.

On the women's side, two-time former Madrid champion Petra Kvitova beat Karolina Pliskova, 7-6 (4), 6-3, in an all-Czech semifinal.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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