Earlier, the top-ranked player had won the Madrid title twice in 2011 and 2016 while on the other side Tsitsipas was also hoping to clinch the third title of clay court season on his name as he previously won in Estoril and Marseille.
The Swiss has won his last two matches against Nishikori, including a three-set victory in Rotterdam in February, when he went on to reach his first final since undergoing knee surgery in 2017.
Nadal is trying to rebound from consecutive eliminations in the semifinals of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, which marked his worst start to the clay-court season in four years.
"He knew I had a tough match last night, so he took advantage...[made] me run and suffer more and I just didn't have solutions".
Novak Djokovic claimed his first clay-court title since the 2016 French Open by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-4 in the Madrid Open final on Sunday. His straight set win over a stellar clay court player in Dominic Thiem during the semifinals was unbelievable. That is because he was beaten at the semi-final stage in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, two events which he had nearly made his own over the years.
It was a timely reminder of why Djokovic has won the last three Grand Slam titles and will hold all four concurrently by winning his 16th at the French Open.
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"It's a big win for me and in this tournament and I'm really looking forward to continue the streak in Rome". "It's a privilege for me to be here playing against you in your last match". I feel like I'm having fun playing tennis again which is always a good thing for me.
MADRID-Rafael Nadal was concerned going into his first match at the Madrid Open. After saving match points in the previous round, against Gael Monfils, Federer spurned several chances in the second set tiebreak to progress to today's semi-finals before Thiem edged the decider. I'll be able to try to win this kind of tournament that I was not able to win this year.
"I needed to step up, Stefanos is very talented".
The ninth-ranked Tsitsipas, the tour's form player in 2019 with 27 victories, lacked the intensity and aggressiveness that he showed against second-ranked Nadal and was overpowered by Djokovic.
Halep, victor in Madrid in 2016 and 2017, lost the chance to take over the No. 1 ranking from Naomi Osaka. "I couldn't do much", added Tsitsipas.
Novak Djokovic is coming off a straight sets win over Dominic Thiem that took 26 games to decide.