Madrid Open Friday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Friday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

Rafael Nadal and Petra Kvitova look to extehnd their winning run on the clay.

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Rafael Nadal (zimbio.com)

On Friday in Madrid, we’ll have the Men’s quarter-finals and the Women’s Semifinals. On the Men’s side, the Rafael Nadal steamroll continues, but there’s several big hitting and big serving challengers remaining in the draw. On the Women’s side, out of an open draw emerge a few new favorites for Roland Garros.

Rafael Nadal vs. Dominic Thiem

It was 51 weeks ago when Thiem defeated Nadal in Rome, the last time anyone won a match, or even took a set, against the king of clay. But Nadal has somehow upped his clay level to new heights this year, putting even more distance between himself and every other player on the tour. By contrast, Thiem is not as strong a clay player as he was last year, especially coming off an ankle injury in March. He barely survived his last two rounds in Madrid in tight third sets, so his game does not appear to be in a place to challenge Nadal. That being said, Thiem is a big-hitting player who will go for his shots regardless of his form. If he gets hot on Friday, he’s the type of player that can overcome Nadal. While that seems unlikely, I do think we’ll get a closer match than the two had a few weeks ago in Monte Carlo, where Rafa dropped just two games.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Petra Kvitova

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Both of these big-hitting Czech players come into this semifinal with a lot of confidence. Both recently won clay court titles: Pliskova in Stuttgart, Kvitova in Prague. Both are also on impressive clay court winning streaks of nine straight matches. Is one of these former French Open semifinalists ready to go all the way in Paris? Certainly the higher altitude in Madrid helps their games, but they’ve both proven their clay court prowess. Surprisingly, they’ve only faced each other twice before. Kvitova won both meetings, but they haven’t played in over three years. I’m sure both players still know plenty about each other’s games. Not only have they been Fed Cup teammates for some time, but the infamous Czech coaching carousel must lead to information about each player being leaked as coaches move from pupil to pupil. Based on current form, the winner of this match becomes the top contender for the Roland Garros title.

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Novak Djokovic Withdraws From Masters 1000 Event In Madrid

Novak Djokovic will miss the Masters 1000 event in Madrid and will look to build up his Roland Garros preparations in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Masters 1000 event in Madrid as he aims for quality over quantity in his bid for Roland Garros glory.

The world number one has had a rough start to the season by his standards as he is yet to win a title this season after a semi-final defeat to Jannik Sinner at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was hoping a change of surface would bring a change of fortunes but the Serb was defeated in three sets in the semi-finals of Monte-Carlo.

Now it seems that result has made Djokovic rethink his schedule as the current Roland Garros champion has withdrawn from Madrid.

No official reason has been given although the news seems to be not that surprising given Djokovic’s history in the Spanish capital.

The Serb hasn’t played since 2022, where he was beaten by Carlos Alcaraz in the semi-finals, and has now won the title there for five years.

It looks like Djokovic will be putting his faith into more favourable conditions in Rome, which is the most similar to Roland Garros in terms of conditions.

Djokovic is a six-time champion in the Italian capital and will aim for a seventh title when he plays there on the 8th of May.

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Thanasi Kokkinakis Questions ‘Insane’ Drug Testing

Thanasi Kokkinakis has been tested three times within the last six days.

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Thanasi Kokkinakis has questioned persistent drug testing after he revealed he was tested three times in six days.

The Australian is in good form at the moment having won the Sarasota Challenger in Florida.

Kokkinakis claimed glory with a three set win over Zizou Bergs in the final as he continues to climb the rankings.

However that glory has been overshadowed by the fact that Kokkinakis has revealed he was drug tested three times within a six day period.

The world number 94 described it as ‘insane’ and it comes after Alexandre Muller complained of persistent drug testing after his recent defeats.

Doping has been a huge topic of conversations with Simona Halep losing two years of her career after testing positive after the US Open before the Court Of Arbitration For Sport shortened her case.

Kokkinakis will be hoping that this is the last time he has to deal with persistent drug testing as he continues his clay court season.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Saves Two Match Points To Extend Winning Streak In Barcelona

Stefanos Tsitsipas survived a scare to reach the Barcelona semi-finals.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas saved two match points to defeat Facundo Diaz Acosta 4-6 6-3 7-6(8) in Barcelona.

The former finalist saved two match points against the inspired Argentinian as Tsitsipas reached the semi-finals.

It means Tsitsipas is 9-0 in the clay court season and has the chance to set up a potential rematch with Casper Ruud in the final.

The duo met in last week’s Monte-Carlo final where Tsitsipas claimed his third title in Monaco.

Speaking after the match Tsitsipas admitted it was difficult to sustain his level, “I was coming close [to losing] at certain moments in the match. It seemed like a mountain,” Tsitsipas stated to the ATP website.

“I reminded myself that I have a headband that I wear here that has a mountain and that I need to climb it, so it kept me going. It was difficult. It was extremely difficult to sustain the same level throughout the entire match and I think he played incredible.

“I think he left everything out there. He is a good clay-court player. He has a title on the ATP Tour for a reason and today it was a level he was able to bring out on the court that made it quite obvious.

“I got a little bit tense on my serve, I won’t lie. I think I started decelerating a lot, but once I got a hold of that I was conscious of that, it went back to where it belonged and helped me a lot in the tie-breaker because if I didn’t figure it out, I don’t know. It was very mental in general. I really had to go to uncomfortable places mentally and go over the limit at some point.”

Tsitsipas is currently seven in the world in the live rankings as the Greek is looking to claim his first title in Barcelona.

Next up for the Greek will be either Dusan Lajovic or Arthur Fils while Tomas Martin Etcheverry takes on Casper Ruud in the other semi-final.

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