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Madrid day six: Murray Crashes out to Coric
Niall Clarke in Madrid
Lucky loser Coric knocks out world number one Murray
Andy Murray is out of the Mutua Madrid Open after being defeated 6-3, 6-3 by lucky loser Borna Coric on Manolo Santana stadium.
Coric, who lost to Mikhail Kukushkin in qualifying, hit 21 winners against an out of sorts Murray to book his place in the quarter finals against Dominic Thiem.
It was Murray who earned the first break point opportunities in the fourth game but the Brit failed to convert a single one of them then dropped serve the following game. Murray bounced straight back with a break to level the score, but Coric remained strong and broke two more times to seal the set 6-3.
The 20-year-old threatened to break again early in the third but Murray managed to hold. Coric was forced to save break points in the following game, but he kept on with his aggressive game plan as he looked to deal the final blow. That came at 4-3 in the second after another sloppy service game from the world number one.
Murray hit 28 unforced errors in the match, which ultimately would lead to his downfall. Coric successfully served out the match to 30, hitting a drop shot that Murray failed to return in play. It is the biggest win of Coric’s young career, and one that sends him back into the top 50.
“Most things weren’t working particularly well.” Murray said post match.
“Yeah, wasn’t great. I mean, I started the match okay, but when I started to go behind, I didn’t find any way to improve my game or to make it more difficult for him. I just kind of let the same things keep happening, making mistakes very early in a lot of the rallies. I wasn’t building any points really.”
“You know, I didn’t help myself sort of find a way into the match to start playing better. That was disappointing because, you know, you’re not always going to play your best tennis, but you can still find ways to make it difficult for your opponent, and I didn’t do that at all today.”
It is quite the shock for Coric. He was looking like he was heading for the plane ride home after qualifying, but now he finds himself in the quarter finals.
“After one match of the quallies where I lost and I was booking my flight back to home, so it is surprise for sure.” Said Coric
“But in last two matches, I’ve been feeling pretty good, like I was feeling good like back in Marrakesh. I was expecting to play good, but I was not sure how it was going to end. But I was playing really good today.”
“You don’t expect much because you already lost. You’re not feeling very well obviously. If you lose, that’s fine. I don’t know, that’s how I was looking, you know, the first match.”
“I did find the rhythm in the end, like I said already yesterday, I was feeling much better on the court. I was playing much better. Today was the best match of the season, I would say.”
“So, yeah, I think as a lucky loser, it takes off some pressure I would say.”
Djokovic sets up Nishikori quarter final clash
Novak Djokovic is through to the quarter finals of the Mutua Madrid Open after defeating Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.
The world number two broke at the end of each set to secure a 6-4, 7-5 victory of the Spaniard and set up a quarter final contest with Kei Nishikori.
The first set stayed on serve until the end with only the one break point being created by Djokovic. Then as Lopez served to stay in the set, the pressure was ramped up by the Serb and the Spaniard wilted. Djokovic broke and took the set 6-4.
Lopez managed to earn break point at the start of the second set, but Djokovic was able to save it. This was a much more comfortable Djokovic than the one that was almost ousted by Almagro in the previous day, and just like the first set the second seed ramped up the pressure at the end of the set. Again he was able to break as Lopez served to stay in it, and the match was closed in two sets rather than three.
“I think Feliciano played really well, especially in the second set.” Djokovic said in his post match press conference.”
“I wasn’t winning too many points on his service games until the last one where I managed to return many balls back in play and then win the match. One break was enough, 5-4, 6-5, both sets. But, as I said, it was quite a solid performance from both players, high quality. I was enjoying very much.”
“Of course, in the end, you know, 5-All, Love-30, a couple of really long points. I was in trouble, and I managed to get my way out of it, as I said, with some great gets. That pumped me up obviously. You know, you’re trying to hold your composure and always find the right balance between pumped up and having great intensity on the court, but at the same time having calm and concentration.”
“Especially if you’re playing against a Spanish player in Madrid, it’s obviously a different game, it’s a different feeling. Obviously they have a lot of support. Yeah, you need to kind of hold your nerves, hold your concentration, and use all the necessary energy in the right moments.”
Djokovic will play Nishikori in the quarter finals after the Japanese player eased past David Ferrer in straight sets. The sixth seed got off to a good start by grabbing a 4-1 lead with a double break early. Ferrer got one break back, but could not work anything else on the Nishikori serve as the Japanese took the opener 6-4.
The majority of the match was played under the roof as rain hit the Caja Magica, but that did not trouble Nishikori who remained solid on serve, not giving away a single break point in the second set. Nishikori broke at 3-2 then again at 5-3 to seal his passage into the last eight.
“I’m very happy to win, especially in two sets.” Nishikori said post match.
“I was expecting to play a long match again, like we always play. But, yeah, I think I played a very good tennis whole till the end. I think I was using my forehand a lot and playing aggressive tennis. I think it was working well.”
“So very happy to win two sets today.”
Nishikori does not have the best record against Djokovic. The world number seven has lost his last ten matches against the Serb, and has not beaten him since the US Open in 2014.
“Novak is someone that I don’t have good record. Well, yeah, he’s a great player, very solid, everything. Doesn’t have much weakness. I got to stay really positive and I got to play great tennis to beat him. It’s great opportunity for me to see how much I can play.”
“Yeah, I try to enjoy my big challenge tomorrow.”
Nadal eases past Kyrgios
Rafael Nadal comfortably made it through to the quarter finals of the Madrid Open after a 6-3, 6-1 win over Nick Kyrgios.
It was surprisingly comfortable for the Spaniard as he was expected to be pushed to his limits by the Australian. However, Kyrgios failed to bring his best and looked dejected throughout.
It was Nadal that earned the first break of serve in the fourth game, but Kyrgios broke straight back with some of the unorthodox brilliance he comes up with. Nadal got right back down to business, breaking again before going on to seal the set 6-3.
The second set was very one sided. Kyrgios struggled to keep the ball in court, hitting 27 unforced errors in total. Nadal broke three times in the final set and completed the rout 6-1 in the second.
“I think I played really well tonight.” Nadal said post match.
“Since the beginning of the match, I committed just a few errors. I think I returned the ball very well, even better than normally.”
“I think I served very well, committed very few errors. I think I made a step forward compared to yesterday. Of course, to be able to win 6-3, 6-1, whatever the second was, I can’t remember, I think it’s great news. I think it’s not normal to win against an opponent like this because Nick is a really good opponent.”
“Well, in a few minutes he will be here and you can ask him about his impressions. From my side, I think I played a really good match today.”
Kyrgios was flat and had little training coming into the tournament due to the passing of his grandfather. The Australian claimed it was a big influence on his performance.
“I mean, yeah, it was always going to be tough. You know, Rafa, he’s won this tournament so many times. He plays so well on the clay.”
“Yeah, I haven’t had the best preparations coming into this tournament. I mean, I didn’t really train for a week and a half before this tournament. So to even come here and win a couple rounds. I wasn’t expecting myself to play well this week at all. I didn’t feel too good before the tournament on the court. Wasn’t playing well.”
“I won a couple rounds and lost to Rafa. I’m relatively happy with my first week on clay. But he played well tonight. He was by far the better player, so…”
It may have been a situation where the live crowd was unaware. As he was leaving the court, Kyrgios was met by a few jeers from the Madrid crowd who clearly felt he did not give it his all.
“I don’t really care. I get it everywhere, even if I play good. If I play 6 in the third with Federer in Miami, I still get booed off the court. So whatever, responded Kyrgios.
WTA Semi finals set
Simona Halep was the first player to book her place In the semi finals after a resounding 6-1, 6-1 victory over Coco Vandeweghe. The defending champion was on fire, hitting only three unforced errors the entire match whilst the American struggled to get her game going. The frustration showed for Vandeweghe as she smashed her racket and talked to herself throughout the match. One hour was all it took for Halep to book her place in the last four, and she was pleased with her performance.
“I didn’t expect to be so fast today. But I was focused. I was concentrated for every point. I knew that it’s going to be important. Also when the rain came, I tried to just play fast, to stay there in the match. I think I did pretty well today. I’m really happy with the way also I played, and with my attitude.”
Halep will play Anastasija Sevastova in the semi finals. The Latvian continued her impressive run in Madrid with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Kiki Bertens. Sevastova does not have a good record against Halep who has won both of their meetings in convincing fashion, but Sevastova is not thinking about that just yet.
“Well, I haven’t thought about it yet. Today I tried to enjoy that I won today. I will think about it tomorrow – maybe – for sure (smiling). But she plays great here. Still, she had some tough results here, the three-setter. If I play like today, I might have a chance.”
Kristina Mladenovic continued her good form with another straight sets victory. The Frenchwoman defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-4 to set up a semi final clash against Svetlana Kuznetsova.
“Yeah, that was a tricky one.” Mladenovic said post match.
“I think it was the first time we both played with the roof closed. A different kind of match because it feels like it’s indoors, so the ball is going a little bit faster.”
“Sorana is a really great player. She can really hit strong. It was just small details today. It was 6-4, 6-4 for me. I was just a little bit more consistent than her in everything, a little bit better, and holding serves when I really had to.”
“Yeah, I really handled well tactically what I had to do today. It worked pretty well.”
Mladenovic will face doubles partner Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semi finals. The Russian dominated Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-0 in the last match of the day on Manolo Santana stadium. The first set was a tight affair with an early break for Kuznetsova being the difference. The second however was a whitewash. The eighth seed was well in the ascendancy and despite a rain delay mid-way through the set, never let up on Bouchard, whose good run has come to an end.
Alexander Zverev’s rise continues after an impressive win over Tomas Berdych. The young German came through 6-4, 6-4 to set up a quarter final match with Pablo Cuevas. The Czech lost serve early in the first set and could not find a way back with Zverev remaining strong on serve. The second was looking to be even more straight forward after the German earned a double break. However, Berdych was able to come back and level the score at 4-4. The world number 19 immediately wrestled back control of the match with another break, then had no issues serving it out.
“Well, obviously it was great.” Zverev described post match.
“Coming from Munich where I had a very tough week, winning a title, which is a positive week, but very tough maybe physically. Didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for here. Only had one day before my match.”
“You know, obviously today was a great match. But also the days before I played very well, against Marin yesterday and against Fernando in the first round. I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals here.”
Cuevas defeated Benoit Paire to set up the last eight match with Zverev. The Uruguayan won a close first set 7-5, but then found himself on the wrong end of a bagel as Paire upped his level. The Frenchman could not sustain it though, and a poor third set allowed the more solid Cuevas to win it 61 and advance to the quarter finals.
Possibly the match of the day came on court Arantxa Sanchez Vicario between Grigor Dimitrov and Dominic Thiem. It was a roller coaster affair from the off with both players having patches of brilliance. Thiem broke in the opening game but was pegged back by Dimitrov who went on to break again to win the first set. It looked like the momentum was with the Bulgarian after he broke in the second, but the Austrian answered straight back and broke again before serving out the set 6-4. Dimitrov raced ahead 4-1 in the decider but could not convert his chances.
Thiem broke back and the match went to a final set tiebreak. It was a 20 point tiebreak which saw Dimitrov earn five match points, however he could not convert one. Thiem took his first opportunity and thus won the match and meets Coric in the quarter finals.
David Goffin impressively dispatched Milos Raonic in straight sets to earn himself a quarter final birth with Rafael Nadal. The Belgian broke twice in each set in a 6-4, 6-2 win, and he is now second in terms of match wins on the ATP tour this year behind his quarter final opponent.