Nadal loses to Thiem, crashes out of Barcelona Open

Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem are building a competitive rivalry on the clay and the Austrian advanced in Barcelona on Saturday.

Dominic Thiem at the Barcelona Open   -  Getty Images

Dominic Thiem clinched a fourth clay-court win over Rafael Nadal to reach the Barcelona Open final at the expense of the world number two.

Thiem lost to Nadal in the French Open final last year but had earlier beaten the Spaniard at the Madrid Open and had the measure of him again on Saturday.

The Austrian prevailed 6-4, 6-4 with a sublime display and has the opportunity to win an ATP Tour title on the red dirt for the ninth time in his career.

READ| Is Rafael Nadal losing his grip on clay?

While 2018's beaten Roland Garros finalist looks to be building towards another challenge in Paris, the usually dominant Nadal has concerningly now failed to reach consecutive finals on his favoured surface.

The two players appeared evenly matched early in an entertaining contest, but a series of Nadal double faults contributed to the first break of the match in Thiem's favour.

A big hold in a marathon seventh game kept the deficit to a single break, yet there was no let up from Thiem as he stylishly served out the opener.

Thiem was unperturbed as he squandered a pair of break-point opportunities at the start of the second, creating another chance at 2-2 with a number of marvellous drop shots.

Nadal went wide and the world number five fought through a final service game to stay in front and dump out the home favourite, moving through to face Daniil Medvedev.