Yesterday, Roger Federer saved two match points in a thriller over Gael Monfils in Madrid. Today, Federer blew two of his own as Dominic Thiem won his fourth encounter with the Swiss in 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 quarterfinal victory.
“Losing with match points is the worst, so that’s how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it’s all good,” Federer said.
“I had a great week. People couldn’t have been friendlier to me. I thought I played good. I have good memories from this place, so of course I can see myself coming back, but I don’t know at this point.”
Like he did against Monfils, Federer raced out to a quick lead thanks to an early break and with his serve humming, he rolled to one set advantage.
Thiem began to turn the tables in the second, finding the form off the ground and off his serve. In a crazy breaker, Federer held 2 match points at 8-7 and 9-8 while Thiem needed six set points to extend the match, and that he did.
With the momentum on his side, Thiem broke early in the third then after Federer break back, he broke again then served it out to clinch his fourth win in six tries against the Swiss, and second straight this year after Indian Wells.
Thiem is now responsible for Federer’s last two losses overall and his last two losses on clay.
Thiem will now face Novak Djokovic who didn’t have to take the court as Marin Cilic withdrew due to food poisoning.
“Marin is a top player and he’s a good friend of mine and he did text me saying he got some food poisoning,” said Djokovic. “So I really hope he’s going to recover for Rome. On my side, I tried to warm up and prepare for the match and then I went back on the court, trained for another hour and got a good sweat in. [I’m] happy that I’m going to be fresh for my semi-final match-up tomorrow.”
Djokovic leads the Austrian 5-2 but Thiem has won the last two both on clay at the 2017 French and 2018 Monte Carlo.
“The test today was huge and tomorrow is a different game, of course,” said Thiem. “But I was playing Novak last year, and two years ago, and he was not at his best, I guess. Now he is again. He’s won the last three Grand Slams and he is at the top of the ATP Ranking again. So the challenge couldn’t be bigger… I’ll try to keep up my good momentum which I have now and give my best again.”
With Belinda Bencic and Federer out, Swiss hopes rested on Stan Wawrinka. But any chance was quickly dashed as Rafael Nadal pounced early and never looked back in an impressive 6-1, 6-2 victory.
“It was a very positive match. I’m very happy with the way that I played and in general terms, it was a great performance,” Nadal said. “I’m happy, it was an important moment for me and I’m really happy to be through this way.”
Nadal, who has held all 30 service games this week, now faces the 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas who edged his peer Alexander Zverev 7-5, 3-6, 6-2.
“I’m really happy and satisfied with my performance. I think I deserved the match at the end,” the Greek said. “I was playing really well, feeling really comfortable on the court. When you feel like this, you can do miracles. So I’m really enjoying the process, really enjoying my stay here until now, and I really hope to do even better in the future.”
Zverev remains titleless on the year, but at least won consecutive matches this week for the first time since Acapulco.
“He’s playing very good. He’s obviously improved a lot. His serve is very, very good, I was surprised today. And the second shot, he hits it unbelievably aggressive so it was not easy. I actually thought I played really well the first two sets,” said Zverev. “If I played a little more aggressive in that third set on break points, maybe I go up a break and win the match as well. But everything happens for a reason.”
Nadal leads Tsitsipas 3-0 in their series.
“He’s playing well. He won last week in Estoril and he’s already won a lot of good matches this week. He comes to that semifinal with plenty of confidence. It’s going to be a tough one, I hope to be ready for it,” Nadal said of Tsitsipas. “I’ll need to play my best. Today was a good example. I need to continue tomorrow, that’s the goal.”
In this all-Top 10 Masters semifinal, Tstisipas is the lone player without a Masters crown.
SATURDAY MADRID SCHEDULE
Manolo Santana 1:30 Pm / WTA – Doubles Final
F 6 Gabriela Dabrowski/Yifan Xu v 5 Su-Wei Hsieh/Barbora Strycova
Not Before 4:00 Pm
SF 1 Novak Djokovic v 5 Dominic Thiem
Not Before 6:30 Pm / WTA – Singles Final
F 3 Simona Halep v 7 Kiki Bertens
Not Before 9:00 Pm
SF 8 Stefanos Tsitsipas v 2 Rafael Nadal
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