MADRID — Novak Djokovic got the win he needed to boost his confidence on clay.
He defeated an in-form Dominic Thiem, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4), on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final for the third time, while Kiki Bertens beat the two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep, 6-4, 6-4, to take the women’s title.
“Dominic is one of the best tennis players in the world at this moment, especially on this surface, so this was a very big win for me,” the top-ranked Djokovic said.
The fifth-seeded Thiem, who beat Roger Federer in the quarterfinals, had won two straight against Djokovic and was trying to make his third straight Madrid final after losses to Rafael Nadal in 2017 and Alexander Zverev in 2018. An Austrian, he was also attempting to become the first player to win three titles this season, adding to triumphs in Indian Wells and Barcelona.
“I thought he was the favorite coming into this match because of his win in Barcelona and the way he played winning against Roger yesterday,” said Djokovic, who will face either Nadal or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who play later Saturday.
It will be the second final of the season for Djokovic, who began the year by winning the Australian Open.
“I was still kind of trying to find my best game on clay,” Djokovic said. “These are exactly the matches that I need. I’m very, very pleased with this win.”
A victory on Sunday will give Djokovic his 33rd Masters 1000 title, tying Nadal for most.
Djokovic, who won in Madrid in 2011 and 2016, had played only four sets this week ahead of the semifinals. He didn’t play his quarterfinal match because Marin Cilic withdrew with food poisoning.
Kiki Bertens, above, won the Madrid Open on Saturday, and kept her opponent in the final, Simona Halep, from becoming tennis’s new No. 1.CreditSergio Perez/Reuters
Last year’s runner-up, Bertens, of the Netherlands, defeated Halep for her second title of the year, adding to her victory in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Ranked seventh, she became the first woman to win the Madrid title without dropping a set. She had victories over three Grand Slam champions in the tournament: Jelena Ostapenko, Sloane Stephens and Petra Kvitova. Bertens lost to Kvitova in last year’s final.
Halep, a winner in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, lost the chance to take over the No. 1 ranking from Naomi Osaka.