Madrid Open Friday Preview: The Men’s Quarter-Finals and Women’s Semi-Finals - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Friday Preview: The Men’s Quarter-Finals and Women’s Semi-Finals

With all six singles matches on today’s schedule being so strong, here’s a mini-preview of all the men’s singles quarter-finals and women’s singles semi-finals.

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Novak Djokovic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

On the men’s side, we have the top five players in the world, three of whom are legends named Roger, Rafa, and Novak.  And the other two were the finalists here just last year.  Joining them in the quarterfinals are a three-time Major champion, the 2014 US Open champion, and a 20-year-old who seems primed for future greatness.

In the women’s semi-finals, we have the reigning French Open champion, last year’s French Open finalist, last year’s Madrid finalist, and a 22-year-old who just yesterday defeated the world No.1 for the second time in two months. The following is a look at how the day will play out, in order of scheduled start time.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Marin Cilic (9)

While Djokovic hasn’t been at his best of late, he owns a decisive 16-2 edge over Cilic. Marin’s only victories have come on an indoor hard court, and on grass. And considering Cilic came into this event with a losing record on the year, this should be smooth sailing for the world No.1.

Simona Halep (3) vs. Belinda Bencic

As per WTA Insider, Bencic is now 5-0 against top five opposition this year. That now includes two wins at the expense of Naomi Osaka, plus victories over Petra Kvitova, Karolina Pliskova, and Halep herself. The Halep upset took place on a hard court in Dubai. Belinda is 2-1 against Halep, though they’ve never met on clay, with should favour Simona.

Bencic is finally back to top form after several years of battling injuries. The 22-year-old will return to the top 15 on Monday, while Halep is just two wins away from reclaiming the world’s top ranking. It will be difficult for Bencic to back up yesterday’s big win, which went all the way to 7-5 in the third. And Halep has taking care of business easily this week, having yet to drop a set.

Roger Federer (4) vs. Dominic Thiem (5)

This is a rematch of the Indian Wells final from earlier this year. As per the ATP, Thiem is one of only a handful of players to have played Federer at least five times and have a winning record. Their only previous meeting on clay was actually Roger’s last clay tournament, the 2016 Italian Open. Thiem won that day in straight sets. Dominic should be considered the favourite today in Roger’s first clay event in three years, and only a day removed from Federer’s dramatic match from yesterday with Gael Monfils.

Sascha Zverev (3) vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas (8)

This will be the only singles match of the day played on Arantxa Sanchez. These two youngsters have split their previous two matches, both competed on hard courts last summer. Zverev won this event a year ago, but only has 15 wins so far this year, with no titles. Tsitsipas has won six matches in just the last nine days, having won the first clay title of his career last week in Estoril. Stefanos’ current level of confidence makes him the favourite here.

Kiki Bertens (7) vs. Sloane Stephens (8)

Bertens has been the most consistent clay court player on the WTA tour over the past several seasons. Since 2016, she’s accumulated 70 match wins on this surface. And just yesterday, she took out the No.2 seed, Petra Kvitova.  Stephens is 2-0 against Bertens, though both their matches have gone the distance.

Sloane is newly-engaged and working with a new coach, Sven Groeneveld. This has been her best week of 2019: her four match wins this week are the most she’s garnered at any event this year. But Bertens is a force on this surface, and will likely return to the final here for the second straight year.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Stan Wawrinka

The day will conclude with a rematch of the 2017 Roland Garros final. Nadal won easily on that day, and has prevailed over Wawrinka in 17 of their 20 matches. One of Stan’s victories did come on clay, at the 2015 Italian Open.

And he looked impressive in dispatching of Kei Nishikori on Thursday. However, with the illness concerns that surrounded Nadal earlier this week seemingly behind him, Rafa is the clear favourite to reach his 11th semi-final in his nation’s capital.

ATP

Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.

 

Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week  after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.

Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.

Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.

Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.

“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.

 

Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.

 

“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.  

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ATP

David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.

 

Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.

The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.

Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open  2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.

Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.

“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”

 

 

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Madison Keys battles past Simona Halep to reach the quarter final in Cincinnati

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Madison Keys beat this year’s Wimbledon champion Simona Halep 6-1 3-6 7-5 to advance to the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati for the second consecutive year.

 

Madison Keys stopped a five-match losing streak against Simona Halep after a thrilling three-set match scoring her first win over the Romanian player in five years.

After beating Halep in their first head-to-head match in 2014, Keys lost five consecutive matches against her Romanian rival, including four in 2016. They met for the first time since the 2016 WTA Finals, where Halep beat Keys 6-2 6-4 in a round-robin match.

Keys never faced a break point and dropped just eight points in four service games and reeled off nine of the eleven points on Halep’s first serve to cruise through to a 6-1 win in 20 minutes.

In the second set Halep dropped her serve twice, but she converted three of the ten break points. The Romanian player held her serve at love for the first time in the match to win the second set sending the match to the third set.

Keys went up a 3-0 lead in the decider and earned four break points for 4-0. Halep converted her fifth break points at deuce and held serve at love to draw level to 3-3. Keys did not convert a match point at 5-4, but she sealed the win by breaking serve with a forehand winner in the 12th game at deuce to the delight of the home crowd.

“I think I played really smart tonight. Obviously I played a really good first set, and I don’t think she played her best tennis in the first set. I think the third set we played a pretty high level of tennis. I think it was the first time that I played a little bit more within myself and didn’t try to do too much too soon. She has been number 1 for a reason, won Grand Slams for a reason. I knew that she wasn’t just going to give up or give in. I knew the entire time I had to fully win the match before I could take a deep breath. I am really happy after losing my lead in the third set, I was able to get back. It definitely reminds me that when I am in the right mindset and playing some good tennis, I can compete with anyone”, said Keys.

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