Clay-court king Rafael Nadal saved three match points before defeating third seed Novak Djokovic 3-6 7-6 7-6 in an epic four-hour struggle to reach the Madrid Open final on Saturday.
World number one Nadal claimed his 33rd successive claycourt win following a monster tie-break that he eventually claimed 11-9. The Spaniard finally progressed on his second match point to claim his third win over the Serb in a month — after victories in both the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters finals. Both players were clearly exhausted at the end of their marathon showdown and embraced at the net at the end of the match. However, there will now be huge question marks over Nadal’s fitness for Sunday’s final after he needed strapping applied to his right knee in the second set.
Holder Murray crashes out
Meanwhile, top seed Dinara Safina will bid to win back-to-back titles when she faces Danish teenager Caroline Wozniacki in the women’s final on Sunday. World number one Safina will be playing her third clay final in as many weeks after losing in Stuttgart to Svetlana Kuznetsova before beating her Russian compatriot last weekend in Rome. Safina cruised past Swiss Patty Schnyder 6-4 6-2 in Saturday’s semifinal while Wozniacki ended the run of French veteran Amelie Mauresmo 7-6 6-3.