Djokovic no match for Nadal on clay
Saturday's potentially explosive clash between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the Madrid Open turned out to be a pretty one-sided affair, as the Spaniard completed a routine 6-2, 6-4 victory.
It was always going to be hard for Djokovic against the 'King of Clay' in front of his home fans, even setting aside their contrasting fortunes of late.
Nadal came into the contest on the back of 13 straight victories and titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, while Djokovic has endured a spell of poor form that led to him splitting with his entire coaching staff prior to this event.
There were some encouraging signs for the Serb in Madrid this week, but against Nadal the writing was on the wall pretty quickly.
Djokovic lost both of his opening service games in the first set to find himself 0-4 down in the blink of an eye.
Nadal nearly claimed a third break - and the set - at 2-5, but while Djokovic managed to hold on in that game, he soon found himself a set down as Nadal served out with ease.
Another early break for Nadal at the start of the second left Djokovic in a deep hole, and though there was brief hope of a comeback when he managed to get back on level terms a couple of games later with his first break of the match, Djokovic could not consolidate his position.
Nadal struck back immediately with another break to regain his advantage, and there was no way back for Djokovic from there.
The former World No 1 showed some fight with Nadal serving for the match at 5-4, saving two match points before earning a break point opportunity, but Nadal saved it and then made no mistake with his third match point.
The Spaniard moves on to the final, where he stands the chance of becoming the first man to claim a hat-trick of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay-court titles.
He awaits the winner of the match between Pablo Cuevas and Dominic Thiem, scheduled for later this evening in Madrid.