Final push: Austria's Dominic Thiem returns the ball to South Africa's Kevin Anderson during their Madrid Masters semi-final
AFP / JAVIER SORIANO
MADRID - 12 May 2018: Dominic Thiem followed up his sensational victory over world number one Rafael Nadal by easing past Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday to reach the Madrid Masters final.
The fifth-seeded Austrian, who ended Nadal's 21-match and 50-set winning streak on clay Friday, needed just 85 minutes to dispose of his South African opponent, seeded sixth.
Thiem, the runner-up to Nadal in the 2017 Madrid final and still chasing a maiden Masters title, will face either German second seed Alexander Zverev or Denis Shapovalov of Canada in Sunday's championship match.
"I will try everything on Sunday. A Masters 1000 title would mean a lot to me because it's obviously really tough to win one," said Thiem.
"To be honest, I thought also myself that I was pretty far away before this week started. Now I'm in the finals again, which is amazing for me."
Thiem is playing in just his third tournament since a right ankle fracture suffered at Indian Wells while US Open runner-up Anderson was competing in his first semi-final at Masters level, ending a run of 10 prior losses in quarter-finals at this level.
The 24-year-old Austrian broke Anderson in a nine-minute opening game which was enough to secure the first set in 49 minutes.
A double fault gave Thiem the decisive break to open the second set and he broke again for a 4-1 lead before securing victory with a service winner as he reached his 15th career final and fifth in a row on clay.
Thiem said he is feeling stronger after his ankle injury as he builds up to the French Open later this month and has tried to forget recent losses to Nadal in Monte Carlo and his shock exit at the hands of Greek teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas in Barcelona.
"There was a little bit of lack of confidence in Monte Carlo and Barcelona," he said.
"It took me a while until I was moving my best again, until I was playing my best again. I think the level of my game increased especially in this week."
Later Saturday, Zverev will be playing in his third straight Masters semi-final.
Coming off a successful title defence in Munich last week, Zverev has faced just one break point all week.
In the quarter-finals on Friday, he downed John Isner to avenge his defeat to the American in the Miami final earlier this season.
Canada's Shapovalov became the youngest player to reach the Madrid semi-finals with a fiesty three-set win over Britain's Kyle Edmund.
The 19-year-old Shapovalov, who lost to Zverev in the Montreal Masters semi-finals last year, is assured of breaking the world top 30 as a result of his efforts in Madrid.
Before this week, he had never won a main tour clay-court match.