On the penultimate day of 2016 Mutua Madrid Masters, Romania’s no.6 seeded Simona Halep and Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova scored easy semifinal victories over their rivals and set up the women’s singles final against each other on Saturday. While Halep defeated Australian Samantha Stosur, Cibulkova stopped the dream run of American qualifier Louisa Chirico. In the first men’s quarterfinal on Friday, Andy Murray literally outplayed Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych before Australian Nick Kyrgios was shown the door by Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the second quarterfinal. Later, Rafael Nadal took three sets in ousting Joao Sousa of Portugal while in the fourth quarterfinal; Novak Djokovic quashed the challenge of Canadian Milos Raonic. For the two final spots now, Nadal and Murray face each other while the other finalist will be the winner of the match between Djokovic and Nishikori. Saturday will also witness two men’s doubles semifinals, in one of which India’s Rohan Bopanna and his Romanian mate Florin Mergea will take on Croatian Ivan Dodig/Brazilian Marcelo Melo. The other heartening news for Indian fans was the semifinal victory of Sania Mirza and Swiss Martina Hingis in women’s doubles. In Sunday’s title game, SanTina will take on the French duo of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic.
The 2016 Mutua Madrid Master is now down to the last two days with Saturday featuring women’s singles final, women’s doubles final and men’s doubles semifinals while men’s singles and doubles finals have been scheduled for Sunday. Meanwhile on Friday, Andy Murray played powerfully to defeat Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych in straight sets 6-3, 6-2. Berdych had come through after a hard-fought quarterfinal against Spain’s David Ferrer on May 5 while Murray didn’t have any issues in his match against Frenchman Gilles Simon. On May 6 however, defending champion Murray controlled the match from start, sent down 20 winners and refused to yield a single break point. On Saturday, Murray will square up with Rafael Nadal, who defeated the Scotsman in Monte Carlo last month. Murray will have to retain his title at Madrid, if he wants to avoid being overtaken by Roger Federer for the no.2 spot in Emirates ATP world rankings to be announced on Monday. In his quarterfinal game against Portugal’s Joao Sousa, Nadal began by bageling Sousa in the first set but lost the second 4-6. However, the king-of-clay found his bearing in the decider and finally walked away with a 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 victory.
In the other quarterfinal, top-seed Novak Djokovic kept big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic under check with great service returns. To Raonic’s credit, he served exceptionally well and missed only three first serves out of 21. But Djokovic neutralized Raonic’s service power with brilliant returns and converted the only break point that accrued in the first set. In the second set, the Serb obtained an early break and faced some trouble only when he served for the match at 5-4. Raonic was able to push the world no.1 and held three break points but Djokovic remained poised, drew level and served out for the 6-3, 6-4 victory. For a place in the final, Djokovic will meet Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who battled with a feisty opponent in his quarterfinal match. In the first set, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios fought tooth-and-nail with Nishikori before edging out the Japanese 7-6. The second set was also decided on tiebreak but the Japanese won this time. Nishikori played far better in the decider and dictated the course of the set before winning at 6-7, 7-6, 6-3.
The two women’s singles semifinals on Friday were over in a jiffy. Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova ended American qualifier Louisa Chirico’s giant-killing run with an emphatic 6-1, 6-1 victory in 59 minutes while sixth seeded Romanian Simona Halep outplayed Australia’s Samantha Stosur in mere 50 minutes with a 6-2, 6-0 win. Cibulkova and Halep will take on each other in Saturday’s title game. In women’s doubles, India’s Sania Mirza/Switzerland’s Martina Hingis reached the final by defeating Russia’s Alla Kudryavtseva/USA’s Vania King. Sania/Hingis played powerfully and achieved the 6-2, 6-0 victory in 50 minutes. SanTina’s title game opponents will be Frenchwomen Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic, who also had an emphatic 6-2, 6-3 victory over the Russians Ekaterina Makarova/Elena Vesnina.
In men’s doubles, India’s Rohan Bopanna reached the semifinal with his Romanian partner Florin Mergea after defeating Finland’s Henri Kontinen/Australia’s John Peers 3-6, 6-3, 10-6. For a place in the final, Bopanna/Mergea will play against Croatian Ivan Dodig/Brazilian Marcelo Melo, who accounted for Canada’s Vasek Pospisil/USA’s Jack Sock with a 6-3, 6-4 result. Saturday’s other men’s doubles semifinal will be played between Frenchmen Pierre-Hughes Herbert/Nicolas Mahut and Netherlands’ Jean-Julien Roger/Romania’s Horia Tecau.
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