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Madrid Open: Simona Halep beats Belinda Bencic & will play Kiki Bertens in final

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Simona Halep continued her bid to regain the world number one ranking by beating Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic to reach the Madrid Open final.

The world number three overcame a second-set fightback from 18th-ranked Bencic to win 6-2 6-7 (2-7) 6-0.

Romania’s Halep, 27, will overtake Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings if she wins the title.

She will play Kiki Bertens in Saturday’s final after the Dutchwoman beat Sloane Stephens 6-2 7-5.

Bertens, who lost to Kvitova in last year’s final, has yet to drop a set in Madrid, although Halep leads the head-to-head record 3-2.

Halep has reached the Madrid final four times in her career and won the title in 2016 and 2017.

Bencic, who beat Japan’s Osaka in the quarter-finals, had won her past two meetings against Halep.

However, Halep, who describes clay as her favourite surface, was dominant in the final set.

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Nadal Ousts Wawrinka For 70th Masters 1000 SF

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Nadal Ousts Wawrinka For 70th Masters 1000 SF

Second seed to face Tsitsipas in the last four

Rafael Nadal will compete in his 11th Mutua Madrid Open semi-final after ousting former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-2 on Friday.

It will be Nadal’s record 70th ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, as he looks to extend his record number of trophies at the elite level to 34. The second seed has emerged victorious five times in Madrid, and he will try to move one step closer to another triumph on Saturday against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals on Saturday.

Most ATP Masters 1000 Semi-finals

 Player  Masters 1000 SFs
 1. Rafael Nadal  70
 2. Roger Federer  64
 3. Novak Djokovic  62

Wawrinka earned one of his three FedEx ATP Head2Head wins against the Spaniard at the Caja Magica four years ago. But Nadal was ruthless in the last match of the day, breaking the Swiss star’s serve four times to advance after one hour and eight minutes. Nadal now leads Wawrinka 18-3 in their rivalry, and all 18 of his wins have come in straight sets.

Nadal has made the semi-finals of four consecutive tournaments (also Indian Wells, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona), and he is pursuing his first tour-level final since the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic). The 32-year-old is trying to capture an ATP Tour crown for the 16th consecutive year, dating back to his first title at 2004 Sopot.

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Wawrinka entered the match having won all 30 of his service games this week, but he successfully held serve just three times from seven tries. Nadal won 56 per cent of his return points, doing well to keep the 34-year-old from stepping into the court and exerting his powerful game. The Spaniard consistently attacked with his backhand to push Wawrinka back before using angles to open up the court and dictate play.

The second set was closer — in score and in rallies — than the 26-minute opener, as Wawrinka attempted to play more aggressively. But Nadal was untroubled, pumping his left fist after Wawrinka missed a backhand chip wide on the Spaniard’s first match point.

Nadal has won all seven sets he has played against Tsitsipas, leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0. But this is the first time the #NextGenATP Greek has entered one of their match’s as a Top 10 player. The Spaniard has broken the three-time ATP Tour titlist’s serve 14 times in their three meetings, with Tsitsipas breaking just once. He is trying to reach his second Masters 1000 final after doing so at the Rogers Cup last year.

Did You Know?
This is the first tournament of 2019 in which we have four Top 10 semi-finalists.

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Steady Tsitsipas Downs Zverev To Reach Madrid SF

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Steady Tsitsipas Downs Zverev To Reach Madrid SF

Greek looking to reach second Masters 1000 final this week

Stefanos Tsitsipas wasn’t always the flashiest player in his Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final against Alexander Zverev, but Greece’s #NextGenATP star rode the waves of momentum well to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 semi-final.

The 20-year-old Tsitsipas beat Zverev for the second time in a row, eliminating the defending champion 7-5, 3-6, 6-2 in front of a lively Friday evening crowd in the Spanish capital.

The reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion will next face five-time champion Rafael Nadal, who dismissed Swiss Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-2. Tsitsipas trails Nadal 0-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which includes their 2018 Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell final, also on clay.

You May Also Like: Thiem Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Federer In Madrid Thriller

“I’m really happy and satisfied with my performance. I think I deserved the match at the end. I was playing really well, feeling really comfortable on the court. When you feel like this, you can do miracles. So I’m really enjoying the process, really enjoying my stay here until now, and I really hope to do even better in the future,” Tsitsipas said.

For stretches, Zverev couldn’t be touched during their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Tsitsipas leads 2-1), landing first serves at will and hitting inside-out backhand winners behind the Greek. But while Tsitsipas didn’t reach Zverev’s highs, he also didn’t reach his lows.

The third-seeded German erased four break points in his first two service games, and the two looked destined for a first-set tie-break. Tsitsipas, however, broke to love in the 11th game as his fans raised their Greek flags and shouted “Tsit-si-pas! Tsit-si-pas!”

“People were cheering my name, and they were very full of joy watching me play, and that gives me extra motivation,” Tsitsipas said. “People are enjoying it. I’m enjoying it. It feels like a really nice atmosphere… I’m really glad people support me, and that people love my game.”

The Greek broke down Zverev’s forehand, which contributed seven of his 14 unforced errors in the opening set. But Zverev didn’t stay down.

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He played his best tennis in the second set, landing 90 per cent of his first serves – and ignited the crowd himself with a tweener-plus-winner combination as he held for 4-3.

Zverev yelled at the fans, prodding them to get more involved as he walked to his chair for the changeover. “Come on!” he shouted. “I can’t hear you!” He then proceeded to win the next eight points and the second set.

But the same serve that carried Zverev to the 2018 title – he didn’t get broken last year – and helped him tie up his the quarter-final against Tsitsipas ultimately let him down in the decider.

Zverev, while serving at 1-2, double faulted twice, including on break point, and Tsitsipas continued to apply pressure, winning 73 per cent of his net points (24/33) and broke in the final game.

He’s playing very good. He’s obviously improved a lot. His serve is very, very good, I was surprised today. And the second shot, he hits it unbelievably aggressive so it was not easy. I actually thought I played really well the first two sets,” said Zverev, who had three break points at 1-1 in the third. “If I played a little more aggressive in that third set on break points, maybe I go up a break and win the match as well. But everything happens for a reason.”

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Federer: 'Losing With Match Points Is The Worst'

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Federer: ‘Losing With Match Points Is The Worst’

Swiss to decide on Rome participation over the weekend

Roger Federer says he is happy with his clay form, despite missing two match points in a Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem on Friday. It was his first red-dirt tournament for three years.

“I feel very good about my game,” admitted the three-time former Madrid champion, shortly after losing 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 at the Caja Magica. “I thought I had some good matches here, especially the last two [against Gael Monfils and Thiem]. [The] first one [versus Richard Gasquet] was good to get into it. Obviously, Gael and Dominic are tough on the clay, so it was a good battle. I feel good on the clay right now.”

You May Also Like: Thiem Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Federer In Madrid Thriller

The Swiss recorded the 1,200th match win of his career on Thursday by saving two match points against Monfils, but could not convert match points at 7/8 and 9/10 in the second set tie-break against Thiem on Friday.

“[It’s] frustrating, clearly,” said Federer. “Losing with match points is the worst, so that’s how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it’s all good.

“I had a great week. People couldn’t have been friendlier to me. I thought I played good. I have good memories from this place, so of course I can see myself coming back, but I don’t know at this point.”

Federer, who features in next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia draw, admitted he will make a decision on his participation at the Foro Italico in Rome over the weekend.

“I couldn’t make the decision before the game so, unfortunately, I had to wait and see how this match played out today… I wanted to keep options open and that is why I’m in the draw. I’ll probably only decide on the weekend.”

Federer, a winner of two ATP Tour titles this year at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas) — his 100th career crown — and at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner), now has a 20-3 match record on the season.

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Madrid Open: Dominic Thiem beats Roger Federer to set up Novak Djokovic meeting

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Dominic Thiem saved match points to end Roger Federer’s clay-court return and reach the Madrid Open semi-finals.

Swiss Federer saved match points in his quarter-final on Thursday but squandered two of his own in the second-set tie-break against Thiem.

Austria’s Thiem eventually came through 3-6 7-6 (13-11) 6-4 to set up a meeting with world number one Novak Djokovic.

Fifth seed Thiem previously beat 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer in the Indian Wells final in March.

Fourth seed Federer, 37, was playing in his first clay-court tournament for three years.

  • Halep reaches Madrid final – report

Thiem, a predominantly clay-court player who lost to Rafael Nadal in last year’s French Open final, recovered from a slow start against Federer.

He created five break points on the Federer serve in the second set, but the Swiss held to force an eventual tie-break.

Federer had match point at 8-7 and 10-9 in the tie-break but Thiem saved them both and won four of the final five points to ensure a deciding set.

Thiem broke Federer early and went on to serve out the match at the second attempt.

He will play Djokovic on Saturday after the Serb received a walkover to the semi-finals.

Djokovic had been set to face Marin Cilic but the Croat pulled out after suffering with food poisoning.

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Nadal Could Face Thiem In Rome QF Blockbuster

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Nadal Could Face Thiem In Rome QF Blockbuster

Seventeen of the Top 20 in the ATP Rankings are in the draw

Eight-time Internazionali BNL d’Italia champion Rafael Nadal will not have it easy if he’s to add to his record trophy haul in Rome. The Spaniard could face the only player who has defeated him on clay since 2017, Dominic Thiem, in the quarter-finals.

Seventeen of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings are in the final clay-court ATP Masters 1000 draw of the year. Leading the way is World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is going for his fifth triumph at the event, and third seed Roger Federer, who said after his quarter-final loss in Madrid that he will, “probably only decide on the weekend” whether he plays in Rome or not.

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Nadal and Thiem, both of whom remain alive at the Mutua Madrid Open, have already played once this year on clay, with Thiem prevailing en route to his victory in Barcelona. It is the third consecutive year in which the Austrian has defeated Nadal on the surface, which would make that potential quarter-final a must-see blockbuster.

Nadal & Thiem’s Past Five FedEx ATP Head2Head Meetings

 Year  Tournament  Round  Winner  Score
 2019  Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell  SF  Dominic Thiem  6-4, 6-4
 2018  US Open  QF  Rafael Nadal  0-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-7(4), 7-6(5)
 2018  Roland Garros  F  Rafael Nadal  6-4, 6-3, 6-2
 2018  Mutua Madrid Open  QF  Dominic Thiem  7-5, 6-3
 2018  Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters  QF  Rafael Nadal  6-0, 6-2

But both players will need to advance to that stage first. After his bye, second-seeded Nadal will play Richard Gasquet or Jeremy Chardy, both of whom are Frenchmen. The first seed Nadal could battle is big-hitting 14th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili. Nadal needed four sets to dismiss the Georgian at last year’s US Open.

Thiem will need to navigate through a section of dangerous unseeded players, starting with his opener against Spaniard Fernando Verdasco or Brit Kyle Edmund. Nine-time ATP Tour champion Roberto Bautista Agut is also in Thiem’s section, and the fifth seed could potentially play 11th seed Karen Khachanov in the third round.

Top-seeded Novak Djokovic will start his pursuit of a fifth Rome trophy against #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov or Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta. The Serbian faced Shapovalov en route to his Australian Open triumph earlier this year, but it was not an easy match for the World No. 1. Shapovalov was one of just two players (also Medvedev) to take a set from Djokovic in Melbourne. 

Djokovic could face a familiar clay-court foe in the third round in 16th seed Marco Cecchinato. The Italian defeated Djokovic at Roland Garros last year. Seventh seed Juan Martin del Potro, who played his first tournament since February this week in Madrid, is also in the same quarter.

Third seed Roger Federer, who reached the quarter-finals at the Caja Magica in his first clay-court tournament since 2016 Rome, is slated to face one of the two 2018 Millennium Estoril Open finalists: Portugal’s Joao Sousa or American Frances Tiafoe. He is in the bottom half of the draw with Nadal and Thiem.

Reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev, who made the final in Rome last year, will play home favourite Matteo Berrettini or Frenchman Lucas Pouille in his opener. The German is in the top half with Djokovic.

Five First-Round Matches To Watch
– No. 12 Daniil Medvedev vs. Nick Kyrgios
– Stan Wawrinka vs. David Goffin
– No. 13 Borna Coric vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime
– No. 10 Fabio Fognini vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
– Alex de Minaur vs. No. 16 Marco Cecchinato

Did You Know?
Every Rome champion since 2005 will be in the draw with the exception of 2016 champion Andy Murray, who is recovering from hip surgery.

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Thiem Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Federer In Madrid Thriller

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Thiem Saves 2 M.P. To Beat Federer In Madrid Thriller

Austrian will play Djokovic on Saturday

Dominic Thiem hung tough and saved two match points on Friday in an enthralling and dramatic 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 victory over three-time former champion Roger Federer at the Mutua Madrid Open in two hours and 11 minutes.

The fifth-seeded Austrian, who has finished runner-up at this ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the past two years, saved match points at 7/8 and 9/10 in the second set tie-break and carried the momentum into the deciding set with a service break — on his ninth opportunity — in the third game. Fourth seed Federer broke back for 4-4, but on break point in the next game, when approaching the net, rued letting a Thiem forehand return go by.

Thiem, victor over Federer for his first Masters 1000 crown in the BNP Paribas Open final on 17 March, will now look to extend his eight-match winning streak against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2011 and 2016 Madrid titlist, on Saturday. The 25-year-old Thiem is 2-5 against the Serbian, but has won their past two meetings in the 2017 Roland Garros quarter-finals and last year’s Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters third round.

Earlier in the day, 2011 and 2016 champion Djokovic advanced to his 62nd ATP Masters 1000 semi-final without striking a ball when ninth seed Marin Cilic withdrew due to food poisoning.

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Just like against Gael Monfils on Thursday, in the 1,200th match win of his career, Federer got off to a fast start by taking a 3-0 lead — breaking serve when Thiem made a forehand error in the second game. After five service games, Federer had lost five points and Thiem was treading water too deep behind the baseline. Federer wrapped up the 30-minute opener when Thiem struck a forehand long (his 11th error).

Federer came under pressure early in the second set, but his first serve and natural attacking instincts came to the rescue – twice in the second game from 15/40 and again at 2-3, 0/40. While Thiem was solid on serve, Federer dictated with his forehand in long rallies by positioning himself in the Ad court.

Thiem made consecutive errors at the start of the tie-break, but battled back from 0/3 down to win six of the next seven points. Serving at 6/5, Thiem was left flat-footed as Federer disguised a backhand drop shot and the Austrian was left kicking himself at 7/6 when he overcooked a forehand. Federer went for broke at 8/7 on a forehand return; a third set point went begging for Thiem at 9/8 and he needed a big forehand to save a second match point for Federer at 9/10. Federer saved a fifth set point with a first serve at 10/11, but Thiem was not to be denied on serve at 12/11 with an aggressive forehand/smash combination.

Thiem found his forehand range, pinning Federer behind the baseline early in the decider. Finally able to get a look on a second serve, Thiem made his move in the third game when he broke Federer’s serve for the first time with successive forehands on his ninth break point chance. In what was becoming an encounter of fine margins, Federer responded immediately at 1-2, yet Thiem denied his Swiss opponent two break points.

Deep returns from Federer at 3-4 ensured there was to be another twist but, in the next game, Thiem locked in on return and set up three break points. Federer saved the first with a first serve out wide, the second with a high volley winner, but on approach to the net at 30/40, the Swiss left a forehand return that dropped inside the Ad court tramline.

Federer, who was playing his first clay-court tournament for three years, last beat a Top 10 player on red dirt at the 2015 Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals). Today marks the 21st time that Federer has held a match point(s) and lost. It is the first time that Federer lost a match after having match point since the 2018 Wimbledon quarter-finals, when he fell to Kevin Anderson 13-11 in the fifth set. In his last visit to Madrid in May 2015, Federer lost to Nick Kyrgios in three tie-breaks in their second-round clash after holding two match points.

This year, Federer won the 100th title of his career at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas) in February and won his 28th Masters 1000 trophy at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner) in March. He is now 20-3 in 2019.

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Djokovic Advances In Madrid; Cilic Out With Food Poisoning

  • Posted: May 10, 2019

Djokovic Advances In Madrid; Cilic Out With Food Poisoning

Serbian star advances to his 62nd ATP Masters 1000 semi-final

Novak Djokovic advanced to the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals for a sixth time on Friday without hitting a ball after Marin Cilic withdrew ahead of their match at the Caja Magica.

The 30-year-old Cilic announced his withdrawal – ahead of their 20th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting – via Twitter, admitting he had food poisoning.

“Marin is a top player and he’s a good friend of mine and he did text me saying he got some food poisoning,” said Djokovic. “So I really hope he’s going to recover for [next week’s Internazionali BNL d’Italia in] Rome. On my side, I tried to warm up and prepare for the match and then I went back on the court, trained for another hour and got a good sweat in. [I’m] happy that I’m going to be fresh for my semi-final match-up tomorrow.”

Ninth seed Cilic had won three three-set matches en route to the Madrid quarter-finals this week, saving four match points against Martin Klizan in the opening round; followed by victories over Jan-Lennard Struff and Laslo Djere.

Djokovic, the 2011 and 2016 champion in Madrid, will contest his 62nd ATP Masters 1000 semi-final against fourth-seeded Swiss Roger Federer, the three-time former titlist, who secured the 1,200th win of his career on Thursday, our fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem, a runner-up here for the past two years.

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