Nadal dismisses talk of Djokovic 'slump'

Novak Djokovic shrugged off splitting with his long-term coaching staff earlier this week to beat Nicolas Almagro at the Madrid Open.

Nadal was taken to three sets before seeing off Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7/3), 3-6, 6-4 in his second-round match on Wednesday.

On the other side of the draw Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas advanced to his first ever Masters series semi-final by outlasting German wonder kid Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-0, 6-4.

Novak Djokovic overcame stiff resistance from Feliciano Lopez to book his place in the quarter-finals of Madrid Masters with a 6-4, 7-5 win on Thursday.

On the women's side, third-seeded Simona Halep of Romania reached the semifinals by beating Coco Vandeweghe of the USA 6-1, 6-1 in less than an hour. Second round: Halep bt Roberta Vinci 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (2).

"I didn't feel too good before the tournament on the court".

"I knew I was playing against an opponent I had to be aggressive against from the start", Nishikori said after denying the 35-year-old Ferrer, ranked 30th in the world, his 700th singles match win.

Following a six-week layoff due to an injured hamstring, Raonic has looked spry in his return, winning four of his last five matches while dropping just three sets.

The Spaniard had to save two break points to hold for 4-3 and then took his chance to break with Djokovic serving to stay in the set.

"We had to hit very close to the line to win the points", said Nadal, who is trying to win his third consecutive title after victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. I was in trouble and I managed to get my way out of it with some great gets.

Showing more emotion in this game than he had for much of the match, Djokovic endured a time violation warning to work through a tricky hold for 5-6.

Australian Bernard Tomic is out after losing 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 against Ryan Harrison of the United States, while Argentina's Diego Sebastian Schwartzman beat Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-3.

However, the 14-time Grand Slam champion has a hard route to that potential matchup as he faces Fabio Fognini later Wednesday and potentially Nick Kyrgios in the third round.

Djokovic could meet Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

Halep has yet to win an ATP title this year, but victory against either Svetlana Kuznetsova or Kristina Mladenovic in Saturday's (Sunday NZT) final at the Caja Majica would see her climb to fourth in the rankings. "But I think by the French Open, or after the French Open, I'm going to have someone", he said.

  • Julie Sanders