The 2019 Madrid Open just lost Roger Federer in the quarterfinals while a struggling Rafael Nadal is pushing forward against Stan Wawrinka looking to hit the semi-finals. Nadal did beat Wawrinka 6-1, 6-2 moving him into the semi-finals against Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Roger Federer wasted two match points in a 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4 loss to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open on Friday.
The fifth-seeded Thiem outlasted Federer in the second-set tiebreaker and broke him twice in the third set to close out the match in more than two hours.
Federer had saved two match points himself in a difficult three-set win over Gael Monfils on Thursday. The Madrid Open was his first clay-court tournament in three years.
The fourth-seeded Federer skipped the clay swing the past two seasons to remain fit for the rest of the season. He decided to return this year in preparation for his first French Open appearance since 2015.
Federer was trying to win his third Madrid title, and first since 2012. He has already won hard-court titles this season in Dubai and Miami.
On the women’s side, Simona Halep made it back to the Madrid final for the first time since 2017 with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-0 win over unseeded Belinda Bencic.
The French Open champion can surpass Naomi Osaka for the No. 1 ranking if she wins Saturday’s final in the Spanish capital.
The other semifinal will be played between Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens, last year’s runner-up.
The 37-year-old Federer got off to a great start against Thiem at the Magic Box center court, breaking the Austrian’s serve early and cruising to a first-set win. He squandered five break points in the second, and then had match points at 8-7 and 10-9 in the tiebreaker before Thiem forced the deciding set by converting his sixth set point.
Thiem broke Federer for the first time in the third game of the third set, converting on his ninth break opportunity of the match. Federer got back on serve at 4-4, but started his next game 0-40 and couldn’t recover. Thiem then served out for the victory, converting on his second match point.
Thiem has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off because of Cilic’s withdrawal.
“It was supposed to be definitely a good match,” said Djokovic, who has played only four sets this week. “I went back on the court, trained for another hour and got a good sweat in. Happy that I’m going to be fresh for my semifinal.”
The top-seeded Serb is seeking a third Madrid Open title, and his second of the season after winning the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal Going Strong: Madrid Open Quarter Finals
Rafael Nadal was concerned going into his first match at the Madrid Open, but he’s already into his quarter-final match against Stan Wawrinka, so all is well in Rafa land.
“Personally, I’m feeling very well, which is the most important thing besides anything else.
And from that base, I think that I can achieve anything, as I said yesterday, I don’t need to repeat it again. First of all, you have to be good emotionally. You need to have the energy to be able to go forward. Right now I have it, I have the joy, I have the energy to be able to do it.
And after all, you have to go through a process, you need to give yourself some time. I’m not a big believer that things click night to day. I think that things change step by step and more when you come from a complicated process like the one that I have experienced.
And for me, there is a really key thing, which is stability. I think that I have again the stability. I have been able to play two matches pretty solid. I haven’t done super good things, but I haven’t committed any errors.
This is the base of my game. From that base, I have to just keep on going, keep on improving, keep going ahead, keep adding ingredients to the game I have right now, which is quite good. If I manage to add the proper ingredients quickly, I will be ready to compete for both this week and next week in Rome, too.”
He lost practice time ahead of the tournament because of a stomach virus and didn’t know exactly how his body would react when he stepped onto the “Magic Box” center court on Wednesday.
But despite the lack of preparation and the physical toll of the illness, Nadal cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 win over Canadian teenager Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach the third round in the Spanish capital.
Playing only a few days after falling ill, Nadal lost only four points on his serve in the first set and broke Auger-Aliassime three times in the second.
“I’ve had this stomach virus for a few days so this was a very important match for me,” the second-ranked Spaniard said. “I’ve been improving but obviously the body remains a bit debilitated for a while. I’m very happy with the victory. It was very important.”
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.
“The important thing is to win, you know, especially given what’s happened in the last three days,” he said. “In general, it’s a day to be very satisfied, very happy.”
A five-time champion in Madrid, Nadal will next face American Frances Tiafoe, who defeated Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
“He is playing really well,” Nadal said of Tiafoe. “He has that drive and energy and it will be a good test for me and an opportunity for me to play a tough match and to keep improving.”
The 18-year-old Auger-Aliassime is having his breakthrough season on tour, having moved to 30th in the rankings after reaching the final in Rio and the semifinals in Miami.
He converted on his only break opportunity of the match late in the second set, but Nadal broke right back to close out the match at the “Magic Box” center court. The 17-time Grand Slam champion converted four of his 10 break opportunities, with the last one coming on his sixth-match point of the final game.
Earlier, Juan Martin Del Potro squandered a match point in a 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 loss to Laslo Djere in his second tournament since injuring his knee in October. Del Potro converted only two of his 11 break opportunities, failing to capitalize on the match point at 5-4 in the final set. The Argentine had last played in Delray Beach in February, losing in the quarterfinals.
Stan Wawrinka defeated Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4 and will face Kei Nishikori, who got past Bolivian qualifier Hugo Dellien 7-5, 7-5.
Fabio Fognini beat John Millman 6-2, 6-2, while Gael Monfils edged Marton Fucsovics 1-6, 6-4, 6-2. Estoril Open champion Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-2, 7-5.
On the women’s side, top-ranked Naomi Osaka reached the quarterfinals with a straight-set win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich and will next face Belinda Bencic, who dropped only two games in her victory over Kateryna Kozlova.
“I’m at a really good place right now,” Osaka said. “I feel like I’m having fun playing tennis again, which is always a good thing for me and I always play well if I have that mentality.”
Sloane Stephens needed three sets to defeat Saisai Zheng, while third-seeded Simona Halep routed Viktoria Kuzmova 6-0, 6-0.
“I think everything went very well for me to today,” said Halep, a two-time champion in Madrid. “I felt the ball, every single shot.”