- Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
- Rafael Nadal further cemented his legacy as the greatest clay court player in the history of tennis, winning 50 straight sets on his signature surface dating back to last year.
- Just as soon as he set the record, the streak was ended, with Dominic Thiem defeating Nadal in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open.
- Thiem had been the last player to take a set from Nadal on clay, having beaten the top-ranked player in the world in May of 2017 before his undefeated streak began.
Regardless of where you put him in the pantheon of all-time players, Rafael Nadal is undoubtedly the best tennis player that clay courts have ever seen and has 10 French Open titles to prove it.
On Wednesday, Nadal notched another bit of history on clay, winning his 50th consecutive set on the surface and breaking John McEnroe’s record of 49 straight on the same surface set back in 1984.
Nadal wouldn’t extend the record further though, dropping his very next set to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of Madrid Open. As it happens, Thiem was the last player to take a set from Nadal on clay, beating the top-ranked player in the world at the Rome Open on May 19 of last year.
Thiem’s first set win came with the highlight of the match – a thrilling back-and-forth point that pushed both players up, down, and sliding all across the court.
Rally of the tournament.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 11, 2018
Thiem didn’t back down after his first set win, pushing Nadal to the brink and eventually putting him away in straight sets. While the win was an upset, Thiem is no pushover – ranked No. 7 in the world and with his best tennis also coming on clay.
With the way both players are competing, there’s a solid chance the two could meet again in the later rounds of another tournament as clay court season winds towards the French Open in just two weeks.