Rafael Nadal’s 21-match unbeaten run on clay has come to an end following a surprise defeat to Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open.
The Austrian triumphed 7-5 6-3 in the quarter-final contest, just one day after the Spaniard set a new record of 50 set wins in a row on clay during his victory against Diego Schwartzman in the previous round.
Defending champion Nadal, who came into the tournament having won his 11th titles at Monte Carlo and at Barcelona, also saw his record 50-set winning streak on clay ended by the fifth-seeded Thiem.
After losing the opening set, the 31-year-old dropped serve in the seventh game of set two, but his opponent hit a return long on set point when leading 5-4 and did the same again to hand Nadal a break back.
However, the Spaniard followed up with a lacklustre service game and Thiem capitalised before holding firm in the final game, which he clinched with an unstoppable ace.
Incidentally, Nadal’s last defeat on clay also came at the hands of Thiem, in May 2017 at the Italian Open.