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Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal sets up semifinal showdown against Novak Djokovic

14 Mai 2017

Djokovic had an even easier day as he moved into the last four without hitting a ball on Friday as Kei Nishikori withdrew with a wrist injury.

The pair served up a sizzling second set, especially in the seventh game when Nadal finally broke the Belgian for a second time in the set at the fourth attempt after sensational rallies which had spectators in the Caja Magica rising to their feet in appreciation.

"It's going to be a very tough match against one of the best players in tennis history", Nadal said.

"Goffin and I played at a really high level", said Nadal, still undefeated this year on clay.

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. Cuevas won one of the points of the tournament with a no-look victor with his back to the court after a lob shot by Zverev early in the second set.

The sixth-seeded Nishikori, a Madrid finalist in 2014, withdrew saying his wrist was "not 100 percent" and he didn't want to risk it.

"The reality is that it's been a really good era because the matches between Djokovic, (Roger) Federer and me. we've made it many times to the final rounds, competing in the most important tournaments".

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Nadal has made a storming start to the claycourt season, winning the Monte Carlo Masters and the Barcelona Open for a record-extending 10th time last month.

However, the two haven't met since last year's Rome Masters, since when Djokovic has been displaced by Andy Murray as world number one and parted company with coaches Marian Vajda and Boris Becker due to his poor form.

A finalist in Madrid in 2014, Nishikori lost his last 10 matches against Djokovic, including in the semifinals in Madrid a year ago.

Nishikori said he wants to play next week in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia tourney in Rome and expressed hope to be healed as much as possible by the time of the French Open which gets under way on May 28. 'I can not promise to play or pull out right now.

Halep with face in-form Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic or Svetlana Kuznetsova in Saturday's final.

Unseeded Sevastova was playing her first semifinal at premier mandatory level, the grade immediately below grand slam tournaments.

The world No. 75, who dipped down to the challenger tour after losing in the first round of the Australian Open earlier this year, then looked set for a monumental upset as he raced into a 3-0 lead in the decider.