Badosa and Barty to meet on Thursday

Antonio Arenas Men's Tennis, Mutua News, Women's Tennis

The Mutua Madrid Open is about to embark on a key day. Thursday will bring with it the women’s semi-finals and the last sixteen in the ATP competition. The main contenders for the cup will be making their cases for glory on the clay of the Caja Mágica.

The first semi-final promises to provide the fireworks as world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and local favourite Paula Badosa clash. The Australian arrives in fine fettle, having won 16 of her 17 matches on the WTA Tour. However, on the other side of the net will be the only player who has proven she can stop her. Badosa will be bidding to become the first female tennis player to reach the final in the Caja Mágica. The weight of history is on her shoulders.

The day’s play in the Manolo Santana Stadium will be brought to a close by fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka and the Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. In a clash of power, both players will be hoping to make the most of this opportunity to reach a WTA 1000 final. The Belarusian arrives in the semis without having dropped a single set all week, making her the most consistent player of the tournament. It will be the first time they have met on clay and, given what is at stake, it promises to be a thriller.

In the men’s competition, Rafael Nadal will be bidding to extend his run of form on clay. The Spaniard is facing his second match of the tournament against the Australian Alexei Popyrin, the executioner of promising Italian player Jannik Sinner. Fans in the Manolo Santana Stadium will once again be right behind the five-time champion as he seeks to give them an afternoon to remember.

One of the highlights of the day will see second seed Daniil Medvedev take on Chilean player Cristian Garín. The Russian is still trying to find his form on clay, his Thursday opponent’s preferred surface. As he bids to maintain his chances of climbing to No. 1 in the world on this clay swing, the player from Moscow will be facing a stern test.

Dominic Thiem is once again drawing plenty of attention in Madrid. The Austrian two-time finalist will be looking for pace against Alex de Miñaur, one of the most athletic players on tour. This match has all the ingredients to produce some spectacular points.

Among other clashes tomorrow, the Greek Stefano Tsitsipas will be bidding to confirm his status as one of the in-form players. The man from Athens will square off against Norwegian player Casper Ruud, one of the most-improved players last year and a tough man to beat on clay.

See the full order of play here.