Rafael Nadal responds to question about Roger Federer after Madrid triumph

Rafael Nadal's flawless record on clay this season continued as he outgunned the impressive Dominic Thiem to win the Madrid Masters for a fifth time 7-6 (10-8), 6-4 Sunday.

For the third straight clay-court Masters 1000 event, Djokovic and Nadal have been drawn in the same half.

The victory leaves Nadal in flawless shape for the Roland Garros where the French Open is set to kick off in a week's time.

Thiem also fell victim to Nadal's supreme form in the final in Barcelona two weeks ago, but there was little for the 23-year-old to be dispirited about as he pushed Nadal all the way in his first Masters series final.

Nadal receives 1,000 Emirates ATP Rankings points and is expected to climb to No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, surpassing Federer. "I think he (Rafael Nadal) played a very good match in Barcelona".

"It's really important being able to make it to another final in a Masters 1000, especially here in Madrid, at home".

Neither player broke again in the first set, which duly went to a tie-break, in which Nadal claimed victory when Thiem sent a forehand long.

The Nadal of 2017 knows he owns these courts, and that is essentially the difference between him and the plebeian of 2015 and 2016, who lost seven consecutive matches to Djokovic, was beaten by Dominic Thiem on the clay courts of Buenos Aires (2016) and lost to Fognini three times in 2015. "Hopefully I'll have another good result in Rome".

"In my career, being No4 or No5, I don't think it changes a lot for me". The Spaniard is emerging as the hot favourite to capture a 10th French Open title but he refuses to look that far ahead. "I never had that issue after winning a big trophy, of bouncing back and finding new ways to motivate and inspire myself".

Third seed Simona Halep successfully defended her Mutua Madrid Open title with a 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 victory over France's Kristina Mladenovic.

Nadal had to fight off Thiem to win a tiebreak in the opening set and faced a strong push by his opponent late in the second set. "I'm very happy at the moment", said Thiem. If I am No5 and I play well, I will have the same chances as if I'm No4 or No5. "I wasn't winning too many points on his service games until the last one where I managed to return many balls back in play and then win the match".

It was Nadal's 14th straight victory, and his tour-leading 33rd of the year.

Of course the conversation inevitably moved to the fact that with this win, Nadal has leapfrogged Roger Federer in the rankings, not that he gave much store in the rankings to determine who would lift the title at the French Open. The last two years perhaps haven't been my best two years.

Saturday's clash at the Caja Magica will be the 50th career meeting between these two players and their rivalry is arguably one of the best match-ups in the sport.

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