For nearly three years, Rafael Nadal suffered at the hands of Novak Djokovic, but on Saturday, the Spaniard got the better of the Serb in two straight sets of 6-2 6-4 to qualify for the Madrid Open final - which he has won four times.
And he took the match on his second match point to set up the date with Nadal.
Should he lift the trophy again in Madrid, Nadal will overtake Roger Federer in the world rankings and return to the top four. "To win against Novak by that score you have to be playing very well, otherwise it's impossible", said Nadal.
Nadal, a four-time victor in the Spanish capital, will prove a much sterner examination following his stunning straight-sets success over holder Novak Djokovic.
The man known as the "King of Clay" won both the Monte-Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open for a 10th time before heading to Caja Magica and defeated the Serbian for the first time since the 2014 final at Roland Garros.
As the players move on to Rome this week for the final big event before Paris, Djokovic and world No 1 Andy Murray are still searching for the form that might set them up for a convincing challenge.
It was one-way traffic from the Spaniard who broke Djokovic twice at the start of the match, and while Djokovic struggled with his choice of shot, Nadal kept the pressure on. It's a very important victory.
"I knew I was playing well in the first set but I just couldn't take my chances". Previous year he was 31-2 after winning the title in Madrid, which was his fifth of the season at the time.
J.B. Holmes, Kyle Stanley share lead at Players Championship
Jon Rahm of Spain, the best newcomer on the PGA Tour, was five shots behind when he started and missed the 54-hole cut with an 82. Kim birdied the par-5 second and ninth holes, began the back nine with another birdie had a tap-in birdie at 12.
"I think that the last two years perhaps haven't been my best two years". Nadal goes for his 4th Madrid title while Thiem, who saved five MPs against Dimitrov earlier in the week, eyes the biggest win of his career in his first Masters final.
"I played really well tonight".
'Rafa was obviously a better player today', recognized Djokovic, who lost 6-2 6-4. "It's true that some matches are more important than others", Livetennis.com quoted Nadal as saying. "I was trying my best", Djokovic said. He deserved to win, he was controlling the game from beginning to the end.
Nadal of course has some time on his hands as the second semi-final will start after the women's final, but while any feel he is a shoo-in to claim a fifth Madrid title, he of course played down Sunday's opponent.
Coric was only handed a late reprieve to enter the draw in Madrid after losing in qualifying to Mikhail Kukushkin. Serving for the match in final game, Nadal made an atrocious error to waste his second match point.
However, that run was emphatically ended as Nadal, willed on by a fervent home support including Cristiano Ronaldo in the VIP boxes, made the flawless start by breaking the Djokovic serve to love.
"It gives me the possibility to play another final and to continue in a positive line. What's important to me is to make it to another final". "You need to kind of hold your nerve, hold your concentration and use all the necessary energy at the right moments".