Federer adds Italian Open to French preparation

May JohnsonMay 12, 2019

Five-time champion Nadal needed just over an hour to reach his 11th Madrid semi-final and will face Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, a victor over defending champion Alexander Zverev by 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. "I really enjoy playing in Madrid, it motivates me", Halep said. "I was always trying to play aggressive, positive tennis and it paid off today".

Thiem has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off because of Cilic's withdrawal.

Federer, who looked frustrated at times, recovered after being down 0-3 and 1-4 in the third set. One match was in an exhibition, which doesn't really count, while three wins were when Thiem wasn't a top 10 regular, and Thiem has actually taken both of their last competitive matches, on the clay of Roland Garros in 2017, and a year ago on the same surface in Monte Carlo.

I anticipate the match to be very competitive, and the market does too, chalking up Djokovic as a marginal [1.90] favourite.

Thiem has a chance to win his third title of the year after victories in Barcelona and Indian Wells, where he defeated Federer in a three-set final. The Madrid Open is his first clay tournament as he prepares to return to the French Open after a three-year absence. He has already won two hard-court titles this season, in Dubai and Miami, and is seeking his third Madrid trophy, and first since 2012.

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The evergreen Federer did not drop a game in a dominant first set but was dragged into an intense battle by an inspired Monfils before prevailing 6-0 4-6 7-6 (3). He speared a forehand into the ad corner for two match points and could hardly believe it when Thiem shanked a backhand. "He's one of the best players in the world", Nadal said.

"You do have a little bit more of a confidence coming into a match knowing that you've never lost to your opponent", Djokovic said.

Nadal will have a tough test Friday in the quarters against Stan Wawrinka who KO'd Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 (3).

Thiem broke early in the decider, but Federer responded in typical fashion to make it 4-4. Wawrinka will be Nadal's opponent, while Tsitsipas will face Zverev, a three-set victor over Hubert Hurkacz.

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