Thiem resisted three championship points but Nadal seized the fourth with a drop shot to the back of the court to clinch his third consecutive clay-court crown, after winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona in April, and the 72nd tournament win of his career. The semifinal in question is scheduled for Saturday and would've been played out by the time you read this. "I haven't had that feeling in months, so it's great to feel that", Djokovic explained, as quoted by Sky Sports.
He did salvage some pride by seeing off more pressure on his serve to at least hold twice and force Nadal to serve out to take the first set in 40 minutes.
He continued his resurgence in the next game and forced four break-back opportunities but Nadal, not renowned as a huge server, came up with some big ones when it mattered. He was able to dictate, even when Djokovic pried open the court and located Nadal's backhand.
What has further aided Nadal's surge is that everyone else seems to be out of sort. The 23-year-old Austrian had gone 0-4 in his previous Masters 1000 quarter-finals prior to this week, but broke the streak on Friday against lucky loser and #NextGenATP Croatian Borna Coric.
But Halep, who is also into the semi-finals of the women's doubles with compatriot Irina-Camelia Begu, showed no signs of lacking in energy as she bounced back in emphatic fashion to win the last six games for the loss of just 14 points.
While Thiem will be hoping to add a second trophy to his name, the fact that he admitted before the start of the Madrid Open final that Nadal is the favourite might be a cause for concern for the Austrian but Thiem is still optimistic.
As mentioned above, a glimpse into that possibility should've already transpired yesterday in the expected Nadal-Djokovic semi.
Djokovic hadn't made it to a semifinal since he won in Doha in the beginning of the season.
This time a year ago Djokovic was on top of the tennis world, not only in the present, but ticking all-time great achievements.
With the French Open the real goal, does Nadal need an eighth Rome title? "He managed to do whatever he wanted really, especially in the first set".
Djokovic was playing his first tournament since splitting from his long-term coaching team and won just four points in the opening four games as he fell 4-0 down to a rejuvenated Nadal.
Goffin has been playing some fine stuff, as anyone who saw him against Nadal will know. It was Boris Becker who completely transformed his game on grass, but it still remains the three-time Wimbledon champion's least preferred surface. All in all, I did try my best. The 14-time Grand Slam victor should be heading into the match high on confidence as he had beaten Thiem 6-4, 6-1 in the final of Barcelona only last month, which was also his third win over the world number nine in four meetings on clay.