Roger Federer continues moving forward at the 2019 Madrid Open while David Ferrer went out on a career ending loss.
Facing match point and on a second serve, Federer decided it was time for a “panic move.”
So he went into all-out attacking mode, charging to the net to try to avoid a disappointing end to his first clay-court tournament since 2016.
A lucky volley, followed by a smash winner, kept Federer in the match. An aggressive forehand two points later allowed him to save a second match point, and he went on to beat Gael Monfils 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (3) in the third round of the Madrid Open on Thursday.
“I felt my chances were bigger at the net than from the baseline, so it was a desperation, panic move,” Federer said. “I was very nervous, so I just figured, ‘come to the net, take a chance,’ and it worked out.”
In only his second match on clay in three years, Federer rallied from three games down late in the third set and then dominated the deciding tiebreaker to outlast Monfils and reach the quarterfinals in a match of more than two hours at the Magic Box center court.
It was the 1,200th career win for Federer, allowing him to join Jimmy Connors as the only male players to have reached the milestone in the Open Era.
“I’m not sure if I’ve lost a match before after winning the first set 6-0. The statistics show that usually you are in good shape. But with Gael you really never know,” Federer said. “He really got into a great groove after that, he had great intensity. At the end I played a great tiebreaker so I’m very relieved and I’m very happy right now.”
In the women’s quarterfinals, top-ranked Naomi Osaka lost 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to Belinda Bencic, falling to the Swiss for the second time this season.
Bencic will now face two-time Madrid champion Simona Halep, the former No. 1 who defeated Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 7-5.
American Sloane Stephens got past Petra Martic in two sets to make it to her first Madrid Open semifinals.
The fourth-seeded Federer had eased past Richard Gasquet in his first match in Madrid and looked set for another comfortable win after routing Monfils in less than 20 minutes in the opening set. But the Swiss lost five straight games to fall behind the 18th-ranked Frenchman who was seeking his second title of the season.
Federer, who looked frustrated at times, recovered after being down 0-3 and 1-4 in the third set. He saved the two match points in a long game when trailing 5-6. The 20-time Grand Slam champion was back in control in the tiebreaker, winning six of the first seven points.
Monfils, who won only nine points in the first set, was seeking his 19th win this season. He won the Rotterdam title in February.
Federer will next face fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem, who defeated Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-5. The fifth-ranked Austrian is coming off titles in Barcelona and Indian Wells. He was runner-up in Madrid the last two years.
Federer, who earned his 20th win of the season, skipped the clay swing the last two years to remain fit for the rest of the season. The Madrid Open is his first clay tournament as he prepares to return to the French Open after a three-year absence. He has already won two hard-court titles this season, in Dubai and Miami, and is seeking his third Madrid trophy, and first since 2012.
Earlier, top-ranked Novak Djokovic reached the final eight by beating Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 7-6 (2). It was his 13th consecutive win over Chardy, all in straight sets.
“You do have a little bit more of a confidence coming into a match knowing that you’ve never lost to your opponent,” Djokovic said. “But he was playing well here.”
Djokovic will next face Marin Cilic, who came from behind to beat Laslo Djere 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
Djokovic is seeking his second title of the season, and third in Madrid. He began the year by winning the Australian Open.
David Ferrer Goes Out With A Madrid Loss
David Ferrer’s career came to an end with a 6-4, 6-1 loss to Alexander Zverev in the second round at the Madrid Open on Wednesday.
The 37-year-old Spaniard had announced earlier that this would be his last tournament because he didn’t feel he was fit enough to keep competing at a high level on tour.
Ferrer had 733 wins in 1,111 matches, fourth-best among active players.
Visibly overcome by his emotions, Ferrer had a difficult time serving while facing match point, backing off a few times and asking for a towel to wipe his face.
After losing he received a standing ovation from the crowd at the packed “Magic Box” center court, then went back to leave his headband on the ground near the net.
Ferrer spoke for several minutes in a ceremony to honor him, thanking everyone who helped his career.
“I’ll never forget this day,” he said, with his wife and son by his side. “I’ve been very lucky. I’ve always wanted to end my career like this. I couldn’t keep playing at the level that I wanted, but I’m very happy and very proud of my career.”
Messages from other players were shown on the large screens during the ceremony, with most praising Ferrer’s toughness and “never-give-up attitude” on the court.
“All the players are very sad he is retiring,” said Zverev, who also looked moved. “You always left everything on the court, in every single match. It’s a privilege for me to be here playing against you in your last match.”
Ranked 144th entering the Madrid tournament, Ferrer got off to a good start against Zverev, opening a 4-1 lead in the first set. But the defending Madrid Open champion rallied to win the next five games to close out the set and eventually the match.
Ferrer lost to Nadal at the 2013 French Open final, the only time he made it to a Grand Slam title match. Ferrer was No. 3 in the world that year, his highest ever ranking. He was among the top 10 for seven seasons. He also won three Davis Cup titles with Spain.
Roger Federer Beats Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3
Roger Federer looked as comfortable as ever on his return to clay.
Showing no signs of rust after skipping clay-court tournaments the last two seasons, Federer cruised to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Richard Gasquet at the Madrid Open on Tuesday.
The fourth-seeded Federer needed less than an hour to win his first match on clay since 2016 and reach the third round in the Spanish capital.
“It feels good to be back on the clay,” Federer said. “I enjoyed it. Some of these rallies, where you get pushed to the side, you slide. You can play in a different manner than you do on the hard courts or the grass.”
The 37-year-old Federer skipped the clay season the last two years to make sure he was fit for the rest of the year. The 20-time Grand Slam champion is preparing to make his first French Open appearance since 2015. He has won two hard-court titles this season, in Dubai and Miami. He is a three-time winner in Madrid, with his last title in 2012.
The fourth-seeded Swiss converted his three break points and didn’t concede any to the 39th-ranked Gasquet at the “Magic Box” center court.
Gasquet was playing in his first tournament after enduring a going injury early in the year.
“I think Richard was also maybe a little bit hurt from his match yesterday, so it was nice seeing him back after so many months being away from the tour with injury,” Federer said. “I think for both of us it was a special match being back here in Madrid.”
Earlier, top-ranked Novak Djokovic started with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Taylor Fritz. He broke the American’s serve once in the first set and twice in the second, conceding only one break opportunity. The top-seeded Serb had seven aces and lost only two service points in the second set.
“I don’t think he was playing at his best today,” Djokovic said. “But I think it was a solid opening match for me in the tournament.”
Djokovic is seeking his second title of the year, and third overall in Madrid. He began the year by winning the Australian Open.
David Ferrer extended his career with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Roberto Bautista Agut, setting up a second-round meeting with defending champion Alexander Zverev. The 37-year-old Ferrer is retiring after the tournament.
“I want to be with my family and try to enjoy as much as possible the time that I have to play in this center court,” the Spaniard said. “And tomorrow I have another opportunity and I’ll go out there to try to enjoy every single feeling that I might experience out there.”
Stan Wawrinka ended a three-match losing streak in Madrid by defeating Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 6-3.
“I felt good. It was a great match, a first great match,” Wawrinka said. “I have been playing good on the practice court, feeling really good, so it was important to start well today and I’m happy with the first match.”
Brazil Open champion Guido Pella upset 12th-seeded Daniil Medvedev 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, while Fabio Fognini beat Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-3.
On the women’s side, top-ranked Naomi Osaka defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-0 in the second round.
“I feel like in the first set, I got a bit lucky there,” Osaka said. “In the third set, I just, like, went zombie mode and then just thought of everything that I had to do to win and not necessarily the outcome.”
Third-seeded Simona Halep defeated Johanna Konta 7-5, 6-1, while Caroline Garcia got past Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber withdrew ahead of her second-round match against Petra Martic because of a right ankle injury.