Rafael Nadal handles Novak Djokovic in Madrid semifinals

"He was playing unbelievable in the seven matches against me, but I felt I was getting a bit closer in Rome and Indian Wells a year ago when I had big chances". His movement was superb. He was able to dictate, even when Djokovic pried open the court and located Nadal's backhand.

Nadal has been playing some of his best tennis this year.

The Spaniard looks in ominous form with just over two weeks to go till the start of the French Open as he stretched his flawless record on clay this season to 14-0 with a dominant display. A nice change from that furrowed brow and flickering doubt that so often danced in his eyes during his recent slump.

Nadal awaits the victor of first-time Masters semifinalists Dominic Thiem and Pablo Cuevas.

The 14-time Grand Slam champion started the second set in fantastic fashion, breaking his opponent again, and it looked like he was going to stroll into the final. He can also tie Djokovic with 30 titles in Masters 1000 events.

The second set resembled the opposite of Djokovic's 2015 Monte-Carlo win over Nadal, where the points were competitive and the favorite could feel his slumping rival approaching, only for the clutch points to be claimed largely by the more in-form player.

"What's important to me is to make it to another final", said Nadal. I played a little bit shorter. While Nadal's win over Djokovic would firmly put him in the driving seat for Roland Garros, leaving the World Number 2 with a lot of hard work in Rome in the coming week. "It's true that he made some mistakes, but he fought until the end".

"I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again", said Djokovic, who conceded the No. 1 ranking to Andy Murray in November past year.

Djokovic hasn't made the semi-final of any of the top-tier tournaments this season either, after winning Qatar Open before the Australian Open. "His quality was very high and he managed to do whatever he wanted, especially in the first set". She won her first career title in St. Petersburg in February.

In this regard, he has already parted ways with his entire team including coach Marian Vajda, fitness coach Gebhard Phil Gritsch and physiotherapist Miljan Amanovic, who have been with him from the get-go.

Nadal, who moved to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Race To London with a quarterfinal victory over David Goffin on Friday, fired 20 winners, including seven with his backhand.

He conceded only two break opportunities to Djokovic, who converted one early in the second set.

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's other titles in Madrid came in 2005, 2010 and 2013-14.

It was their 50th meeting and while Nadal stopped the slide, Djokovic is still ahead 26-24.

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