Djokovic, Nadal struggle in Madrid Open openers

Djokovic will either renew his rivalry with Rafael Nadal or face Belgium's David Goffin in the last-four on Saturday (today). After being broken in game four when Nadal's return clipped the net and bounced in, he hit straight back with a forehand victor.

Unseeded Sevastova was playing her first semifinal at premier mandatory level, the grade immediately below grand slam tournaments. "It was uncomfortable. It was a really bad day.it was really windy", Nadal said. "I didn't feel too good before the tournament on the court. My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through". He schooled a clearly frustrated Tomas Berdych who just could not get it together when it counted, except when it came to killing his racquet at the end.

The first set went with serve until the Serb broke his opponent to take it 6-4 but Lopez was in no mood to surrender and at 5-5 in the second he had a chance to break back at 0-30.

After both players held throughout the opening set a tie-break was required, which Nadal edged after taking four points on the spin to open up a lead in the contest.

He also added that Djokovic and top seed Andy Murray were "two of the best players in the world and we have to expect good things from them".

More Almagro errors followed to give Djokovic another break for 6-5 and he served out for the match.

Djokovic moved into the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters on Friday.

The defending champion had fewer problems against the 35-year-old Spaniard than in his three-set second-round test with Nicolas Almagro a day earlier.

For that Nadal-Kyrgios contest proved to be a one-sided affair, 6-3, 6-1, with the younger man undoubtedly affected by the time spent away from court in recent weeks following a family bereavement.

Frenchman Benoit Paire secured a second-round date with world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka after beating Pablo Carreno-Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-4.

David Goffin is also through to the last eight after defeating world No. 6 Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-2.

In another match, Frenchman Benoit Paire upset third-seeded Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 to reach the round of 16 of the tournament.

Kuznetsova will face the victor of an intriguing clash between top seed Angelique Kerber and Eugenie Bouchard, who dumped out Maria Sharapova in thrilling fashion Monday. The match lasted less than an hour.

"I'm still practicing", he said.

  • Julie Sanders