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Serena, Sharapova reach semis

Serena, Sharapova reach semis

MADRID: Rafael Nadal showed no signs of his recent slump in form as he eased past Italy’s Simone Bolleli 6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday.

Women’s top seed Serena Williams and defending champion Maria Sharapova also stayed on course for a heavyweight final showdown as they progressed to the last four with wins over Carla Suarez Navarro and Caroline Wozniacki respectively.

Serena, who triumphed in the Spanish capital in 2012 and 2013, when she beat Sharapova in the final, swept past local favourite Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-1 6-3. Suarez Navarro had upset seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 on Wednesday to earn a clash against Serena.

Sharapova earlier had to recover from dropping the second set and going a break down in the third to beat Wozniacki 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Nadal has yet to win a European clay court tournament this season after defeats to Novak Djokovic at the Monte Carlo Masters and Fabio Fognini at the Barcelona Open last month.

He said this was an important tournament for him and Thursday’s win gave him an “opportunity to play another match here, and for me it’s always a very wonderful sensation” as he continues his quest for a fifth Madrid title against 10th-seed­ed Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Friday.

Dimitrov disposed of Stanislas Wawrinka in the last-16 7-5 (7-5), 3-6, 6-3 just as he did at the Monte Carlo Masters last month. He rallied for a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Fognini on Wednesday.

Nadal broke Bolelli four times and saved two break points. Serving for the match, Nadal hit some typically agile shots; earning match point by racing forward to reach a drop shot, then hurrying back to hit a heavy top-spun lob over Bolelli to within inches of the corner of the court.

The Majorcan has a good chance of claiming another Madrid crown as world number one Djokovic pulled out to rest and Roger Federer, who took over from the Serb as the top seed, fell 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (14-12) to Australian Nick Kyrgios in the second round on Wednesday.

Czech Thomas Berdych, the sixth seed, continued his impressive start to the clay court season as he also marched into the quarter-finals with a 7-5, 6-2 win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and will play 16th seed John Isner on Friday for a place in the last four.

American Isner brought Kyrgios back down to earth with a hard-fought 6-3, 6-7 (9-7), 6-4 success.

Second seed Andy Murray takes on unseeded Spaniard Marcel Granollers later on Thursday and is on course to meet fifth seed Milos Raonic of Canada in the quarter-finals.

Murray went through to the third round after beating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 in a match which finished at just after 3am on Thursday.

In Wednesday’s late action, Tsonga ousted Jack Sock 6-3, 1-6, 7-6 (7-4), Japanese fourth seed Kei Nishikori saw off Belgium’s David Goffin 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 and Leonardo Mayer beat 11th seed Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6) while on the women’s side Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic beat Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-4, 6-7 (8-6), 6-0.

Published in Dawn, May 8th, 2015

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