Madrid Open – Top Seeds Osaka and Kvitova Ousted; Federer Survives Match Points to Advance
(May 9, 2019) The No. 1 and No. 2 women’s seeds lost at the Madrid Open on Thursday as Roger Federer saved two match points to post his 1200th career match win to enter the 1200-win club with Jimmy Connors.
Unseeded, world No. 18 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied from a break down in the third set to knock out No. 1 Naomi Osaka of Japan 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in her quarterfinal. Osaka led 5-3 in the decider and could not serve out the match.
“She played really good points,” Osaka said during her news conference. “I can’t necessarily say it was all on me. When you play against a good player, you have to expect that they are going to play great at times, too. Of course, I feel like I was negative on myself this match, but like I kind of tried to fix it in the third set. I think my service percentage was down.”
“In the first set I was just really focused and positive and then, in the second set, I just kept thinking about all the mistakes I was making and in the third set, I tried to replicate what I was doing in the first set and it was working for a bit and then, like, I started dwelling on my mistakes again.”
“I wanted to win this match so much and of course, like, I wanted to win the Australian Open and the US Open. But for me, like, I wanted to win this match more because she beat me already before and I just didn’t want to lose twice in a row.
“And also, like, people have been telling me like if I get to the semis here, of course I can stay No. 1. So, I wanted to do that and I was thinking about that while I was playing, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing.”
“I’m usually always happy when I win a match but, of course, now it was because I’m in the semifinals and I beat the world No. 1 and I turned the match around, so I think it was a combination of everything,” said Bencic who stopped Osaka’s Indian Wells title defense in March.
“She was playing very good, she was putting me under a lot of pressure and I didn’t catch a very good start on the start of the match. And then, in the second set, I just tried to play a little bit more aggressive, more brave, tried to push her more and go for my shots more. I feel like that helped a lot.
“I also started serving better I found and yeah, I don’t know how I turned it around. I just tried to hang in there and keep, and play for every ball and somehow it turned around.”
“I just really tried to play my game,” Bencic added. “I feel like she also has a little bit of problems with my game, so I tried to do what I did in the Indian Wells, like going in, taking the time away from her and, like, attacking second serves, having my serve. I’m not going to tell you where. Sometimes, just these kind of details that I knew.”
Bencic will play No. 3 seed Simona Halep next. Halep defeated 9th seed Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 7-5.
“I think she’s a very solid player, a great player,” the Swiss said of her next opponent. “She’s been on the top for very long time now and the clay specialist. So, it will be for sure a tough match. I have reached more again than I imagined in this tournament and, in that case, I will just play very freely and very brave and hope to play a good match tomorrow.”
Halep has a chance to get back to the top of the rankings should she win the title.
A rematch of last year’s Madrid Open women’s final produced the opposite result as No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova lost to No. 7 Kiki Bertens 6-2, 6-3.
No. 8 Sloane Stephens beat Petra Martic 6-4, 6-3 to reach the women’s final four in Madrid. She’ll take on Bertens. Stephens is now working with a new coach , Sven Groeneveld.
“I think that he’s a great coach and obviously, he’s helped me a lot,” Stephens said. “I knew what I needed. I needed structure and consistency and someone who is going to have my back and be supportive, like all these things, and he checks all those boxes, so if it’s Sven is making me win, then Sven is making me win (laughing) and that’s all that matters. When I win, we all win.”
Roger Federer entered rare air in the men’s game with his 1200th match win against Gael Monfils to reach the quarterfinals of Madrid. Only the Swiss and Jimmy Connors have won 1200 career matches in the Open Era.
Federer rallied from 1-4 down in the third set and saved two match points to send the Frenchman home 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(3).
“I’m not sure if I’ve lost a match before after winning the first set 6-0. The statistics show that usually you are in good shape. But with Gael you really never know,” Federer said to media.
“He really got into a great groove after that, he had great intensity. At the end I played a great tiebreaker so I’m very relieved and I’m very happy right now.”
“It makes me feel extra relieved,” Federer said about saving match points. “It gives me some confidence because winning always solves a lot of problems that you might have. Instead of seeing a things bit more cloudy and rainy, you see it more on the sunny side you know. And you don’t win matches every day saving match points, so they are unique in many ways and it makes you feel good, but it is more relief I feel right now.”
Federer will take on fifth seed Dominic Thiem for a spot the semifinals. The Austrian defeated Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-5. Thiem beat Federer in the final of Indian Wells in March.
Top seed Novak Djokovic beat Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 7-6(2) for his 13th straight victory over the Frenchman.
The Serb will play Croatian Marin Cilic next. Marin Cilic rallied past Laslo Djere 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“Of course, coming into the match with Jeremy I knew the score. I had to be quite positive so 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.
In the night session, five-time Madrid winner and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal stopped American Frances Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4.
“I think I have done a really good first set and it’s been a good match,” Nadal said. “In some points, where I had to suffer, I know how to suffer, he had two Love-30s and I played solid on those two Love-30s. And in general, I haven’t committed a lot of errors when I was with my drive.
“I felt quite comfortable with my shots and in general today it’s been a good match. A little bit better than yesterday, I’ve had some more rhythm. We had some good points. The serve has been working pretty well during all the match, which is very important here in this court. And another tough match, even more. It was a very demanding match.
“And tomorrow it’s an opportunity to play a good match against one of the best players, so I hope to be ready to be able to give my best level to compete at a good level.”
On Friday he’ll play Stan Wawrinka who upset Kei Nishikori in straight sets.
“I expect a very tough match,” Nadal said. “He is playing with confidence. It will be a tough one. He likes to play here in these conditions, fast court. And it will be a tough one.
“The only way to win is to be able to play at the very high level, so I hope to be ready to make it happen. Let’s see.”
“Rafa, it’s a challenge to play him on the clay court,” Wawrinka said to media. “I have played him many times. It’s always difficult to play him.
“Again, I’m happy the way I’m playing so far. I’m happy to be in the quarterfinal again, gaining confidence little by little. I know I’m playing well. I know I’m physically good, so we will see.”
Also advancing to the men’s quarterfinals were Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.