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.

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Simona Halep Provides Injury Update On Knee Ahead Of US Open

The return of Simona Halep looks a long way away from happening as a knee injury continues to bother the Romanian.

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Simona Halep has provided an update on her knee injury as she faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open.

The former Roland Garros and Wimbledon champion’s comeback has not gone according to plan so far as she returned from a doping ban in Miami earlier this year.

However playing time has been limited for the Romanian as her second tournament of the year ended in a first round retirement at a Challenger event in Paris.

As a result of her retirement Halep was forced to miss Roland Garros and Wimbledon as she looked to recover from a knee injury.

The injury is more serious than meets the eye though as Halep provided an update on her knee injury and revealed it’s an injury that has been occurring for the last few months, “I wanted to provide a little health update since I have been away from the court lately. It is not the best news, but I wanted to share all the same,” Halep revealed on Instagram.

“For a few months now, I have been struggling with a knee injury. It’s an injury I have never had before and it has been a tough one to manage, with the pain persisting. It has been a very difficult period (almost two years) mentally and emotionally for me and struggling physically on top of that definitely doesn’t help.

“I have decided to take the time needed to recover properly, rather than training and playing through pain. My instinct has always been to try to come back as soon as possible, but I am not a machine, I am a human being and I need time to recover from everything I have gone through.

“I’ll keep you posted and, as always, want to thank you for your permanent support. I hope to be back on court very soon.”

Halep now faces a race against time to be fit for the US Open which starts on the 26th of August.

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Alexander Zverev Commits To Olympics, Speaks About Miscommunication Between Olympics And ATP

Alexander Zverev is preparing for his Olympic title defence.

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Alexander Zverev has spoken out on the miscommunication between the Olympics and the ATP tour with tennis’ top stars set to miss some big events on the tour.

The German is getting ready to defend his Olympic title that he won in Tokyo as Zverev heads to Paris.

After narrowly missing out on Roland Garros glory, Zverev now has an opportunity at redemption as he aims for a second consecutive gold medal at the Olympics.

However there is a dilemma for big players this year as the same week as the tennis event at the Olympics at the ATP 500 event in Washington.

This is an event that Zverev usually plays but will have to miss it due to playing in Paris.

Speaking out on the miscommunication, Zverev said it’s no secret that the ATP are not best friends on the Olympics but has committed to the historic event, “The ITF or the Olympics are not best friends with the ATP, that’s not a secret,” Zverev was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

Everybody continues their own tour. Yes, the Olympics is one of the, if not the, most important events we have in sports. So, the best players in the world are always going to play the Olympics over anything else, over points and over prize money.

All the top players went to Wimbledon a few years back, despite having no points on the line. It’s about prestige, it’s not about points or money. It’s about winning these kinds of titles and having medals for your country.

That’s what it’s about. I would never choose to play a 500 event over the Olympics. There are no thoughts on that, and I think Washington is going to be quite an interesting 500 event, I would say.

The ATP 500 event in Washington will be headlined by Grigor Dimitrov, Ben Shelton, Karen Khachanov and Frances Tiafoe as they are among those that have chosen ranking points over the Olympic experience.

As for Zverev he is continuing his Olympic preparations in Hamburg where he will face Pedro Martinez in the semi-finals.

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Rafael Nadal Reveals Delight At Setting Up Ajdukovic Semi-Final After Four Hour Victory

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the Bastad semi-finals after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

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(ubitennis/Francesca Micheli)

Rafael Nadal has revealed his delight at reaching the semi-finals in Bastad after a four hour victory over Mariano Navone.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion prevailed in a marathon 6-7(2) 7-5 7-5 victory to reach his first semi-final since Wimbledon 2022.

The Spaniard converted ten of his 21 break point opportunities as he reached the semi-finals.

After the match Nadal revealed his delight at reaching the last four and prevailed Navone for his resilient display, “I lost for some moments my concentration, but I was able to hold physically until the end,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“That is so important for me. Let’s see how I am tomorrow, but today I am alive and in the semi-finals, so that’s very important. There were a lot of changing dynamics in every single set. For moments, he was in control. For moments, I was in control. But at the end, no one was in control! That’s true, and I had a good chance in the second with 3-0. Then I was very close to losing the match in the second set.

“In the third [I was ahead] again with 5-2, but he’s a great fighter and he played a great match. I wish him all the very best for the rest of the season.”

Nadal will now play Duje Ajdukovic in the semi-finals as he aims to continue his eight match winning streak in Bastad with this being his first appearance at the tournament since winning the title in 2005.

The other semi-final will be Nuno Borges against Thiago Agustin Tirante with both players reaching their maiden ATP tour semi-final.

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