50th clash for Djokovic & Nadal, Thiem and Cuevas aim for first Masters final in Madrid

 

By Ros Satar, in Madrid

  • Kei Nishikori withdraws before quarter-final with Novak Djokovic
  • Pablo Cuevas stuns Alexander Zverev
  • Nadal gets past David Goffin to set up 50th clash with Djokovic
  • Dominic Thiem eases past Borna Coric
MADRID, SPAIN – Forget the plentiful rain in Spain, there were fireworks on court as the ATP Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals were set.

 

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Kei Nishikori hands Novak Djokovic a walkover

The day started as damp as the eventual weather would be as around 25 minutes before the match was due to start the notification was sent out that Kei Nishikori was withdrawing due to right wrist pain.

In his press conference a short time later, Nishikori said: “I think it’s still not hundred percent. I don’t want to risk it too much today. You know, have next week and the French, too. You know, I want to get back hundred percent. You know, I want to fight again every match. I think today I won’t be able to play hundred percent. So unfortunate to pull out.

“It’s been taking a long time, from Miami. So, you know, I don’t want to go too hard on my wrist. Will take couple days off, for sure. I will plan to play Rome, but we’ll see. I cannot promise to play or pull out right now. I feel a chance, you know. I just need couple days, I guess, to recover well. But, you know, French is more important. We’ll see next couple days.”

 

Pablo Cuevas stuns Alexander Zverev to make his first Masters semi-final

It was a landmark day for Pablo Cuevas – he had made his third quarter-final this season having tried and failed in 28 attempts throughout his career, and now of course advances to his first Masters semi-final having come from a set down against Alexander Zverev.

For a man that had no back-to-back wins this season until Sao Paulo where he won his third straight title – it seemed a dream come true.

He said, after his match: “I’m very happy being able to make it to my first semi-finals in an event like this one. I was doing things pretty well during this season. From the three previous events, I managed to make it to the quarterfinals. I nearly made it to the semi-finals in those events, too.

“This is the third time where I finally managed to make it to the semi-finals.

“I think I’m playing, especially the last two matches, very good tennis. I have a very good level. In the semi-finals, whoever I face, Coric or Thiem, both are excellent players. If they make it to the semi-finals, it’s because they have adapted well to the conditions here.”

There was, of course, this shot:

He said: “It was just a last-minute thing that I hit. I thought it would work. Very few times you do a great volley. Normally I never try that shot. Today I tried that shot. I thought I hit the ball pretty well. When I looked that I placed it in a good place in the court, I’m happy for that.”

 

Rafael Nadal coasts past David Goffin to set up #50 against Djokovic

Rafael Nadal – 2017 ATP Mutua Madrid Open (c) Christopher Johnson for Britwatch Sports

After a test from the unpredictable Fabio Fognini in his opening round, Rafael Nadal looked comfortable against a struggling Nick Kyrgios. It was a bit more of a challenge from David Goffin, who put up an admirable show of saving six break points in the first set until they go to the tie-break against his single opportunity to break the Spaniard.

He was quick to give as good as he got in the first exchange of mini-breaks before Nadal ran away with the points. Once he was broken at the start of the second set and failed to convert on the four chances he had to immediately break back, his resolve seemed to go. It took Nadal another five chances to break the Belgian decisively for his place in a 50th encounter against Djokovic.

Nadal will look to snap a seven match losing streak, with Djokovic now ahead in this rivalry 26-23. The last time Nadal had the better of the World No. 2 was in 2014, when he beat him for the his last French Open title.

Nadal told reporters: “It’s going to be a very tough match against one of the best players in tennis history. I know that to be able to have chances, I have to give 100%. Well, I think that I’ve been playing at a high level during many weeks.

“I know tomorrow is going to be a day that either I play really well or I’m not going to have many chances. I think I’ve done my homework. Tomorrow is a day to try to give my best. Hopefully I’ll be ready for that.”

 

Dominic Thiem rounds out the Masters semi-final line-up

Dominic Thiem – 2017 ATP Mutua Madrid Open (c) Christopher Johnson for Britwatch Sports

It has been a bit of a roller coaster for Dominic Thiem. After saving five match points against Grigor Dimitrov he was back in the zone as he coasted past Borna Coric, who ousted World No. 1 and top seed Andy Murray.

Like Cuevas, Thiem is into his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final as well as levelling his head-to-head against Coric.

The semi-finals start 4pm (3pm BST).

 

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Featured Image Credit: Christopher Johnson for Britwatch Sports

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