New generation serves notice at Madrid Open

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Dominic Thiem’s victory over Rafael Nadal portends more than the scores in their quarterfinal match. It was the same Thiem that halted Nadal’s streak in 2017 when he prevailed in Foro Italico Rome.

His victory in Madrid evokes memories of John McEnroe halting Bjorn Borg’s consecutive Wimbledon titles in 1981; a feat that marked the take-over by a new generation.

Thiem secured a break in the first set that could have ended in a tiebreak and won the twelfth game for 7/5. One break of Nadal’s serve was all it took to clinch victory. The Austrian did what he had said he needed to do to defeat Nadal.

He stood close to the baseline and took balls on the rise. He made few unforced errors. On the other side of the net, Nadal had problems with his forehand, which missed on crucial points. A single break gave Thiem the second set 6/3.

The clash between Shapovalov and Edmund was a classic. The Canadian won the frist set 7/5 and was two points away from victory, when the two layers exchanged sides in the tie break.

The Briton took the next two points to win the set. In the third set, Shapovalov got the only break to seal victory in 6/4.

The second seed, Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, survived the “blitz-Krieg” serving of American John Isner. He broke the hard serve in the first set and repeated the feat in the second set for a 6/4; 7/5 victory.

In the last two years, Dominic Thiem and his German language speaking counterpart from Germany, Alexander Zverev, were the heirs apparent in tennis.

The two have remained among the top five in the rankings, as they headed the next generation pack of Grigor Dimitrov from Bulgaria, David Goffin from Belgium and Nick Kyrgios from Australia. This season, Kyle Edmund of Great Britain and Denis Shapovalov of Canada entered the list.