Former No. 1s Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal set up a mouthwatering semifinal on Friday in Madrid when Nadal stared down David Goffin 7-6(3), 6-2, and Djokovic received a walkover from a wrist-hobbled Kei Nishikori.
“Goffin and I played at a really high level,” said Nadal, still undefeated this year on clay. “It was a very tough match that I had to play at my highest level to be able to make the semifinals. It’s one of the matches that you go back home with a lot of adrenaline and feel satisfied for the work done.”
Nadal has lost his last three matches on clay against Djokovic, and his last seven overall against the Serb.
“It’s going to be a very tough match against one of the best players in tennis history,” Nadal summarized. “I know that to be able to have chances, I have to give 100 percent…I think I’ve done my homework.”
The other semifinal will see Dominic Thiem, who rolled past lucky loser Borna Coric 6-1, 6-4, against surprise package Pablo Cuevas, who upended Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.
Thiem against Coric avenged a loss earlier this year at Miami.
Zverev against Cuevas held it together in the third set until dropping his final serve at 4-5, seeing Cuevas off to a fourth consecutive three-set win.
“This is my first [Masters] semifinal, this year I play two quarterfinals,” Cuevas said. “Today I lost the first set them I came back and played my best tennis, I’m very happy.”
Cuevas and Thiem have only faced each other once, with Cuevas winning in four sets at the French Open two years ago.
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