It was a decisive day in the Caja Mágica with 16 players searching for a place in the quarter-finals. Everyone wanted to catch a glimpse of the tennis but anyone who made their way to the ticket office was met with the same answer: “We’re all sold out”. There were no tickets left for a day that would not disappoint.
The first to book his place among the top 8 was Kei Nishikori who beat David Ferrer in one hour and 25 minutes in the match that opened the day in the Arantxa Sánchez Vicario Stadium. The Japanese player stamped his pass to the quarters in the two sets, 6-4, 6-3, against the Spaniard, who, despite the final score, did not make things easy for the world number 8. But the efficiency of Nishikori was enough to overcome the determination of Ferrer.
In the first set he made the most of the chances he had to break the Javea native’s serve and, despite being broken himself, he was able to save a further break point and maintain his lead to take the first set. In the second, the Japanese managed to improve the efficiency on his serve (73% of points won when serving), gave little or no chance to Ferrer and made the most of the three break points he enjoyed in order to keep his dream of the title alive.
Djokovic sees off Feliciano López
However, in order to have a chance of lifting the Ion Tiriac Trophy he will first have to defeat Novak Djokovic, who came out on top of his clash with Feliciano López. It was a thrilling match, with plenty of great points, and the Toledo native asked plenty of questions of the defending champion. They both held their serve until ‘Nole’ managed to break the Spaniard at 5-4 and take his first step towards the quarter-finals.
The second set was just as tight as the first. Although it could have been a different story; at 5-5 Feliciano López was 0-30 up and glimpsed a chance to break Novak and put himself on the brink of levelling the match. But you can never write off the defending champion. The Serb turned the game around and went on to break the Spaniard in the next to close out the tie on his serve and set up a rematch of last year’s semi-final, this time in the quarters.
Coric sends Murray packing
The big upset so far at the tournament was provided by the young Croatian Borna Coric, who convincingly beat world number one Andy Murray in two sets, 6-3, 6-3. The 2015 champion did not feel comfortable on his serve at any point (56% of points won when serving) and conceded eight break points, half of which Coric was able to convert. Of those four breaks, three came consecutively, handing the Croat the first set on a plate.
Murray was unable to pick himself up in the second and failed to do any damage on the return. Coric saved two break points and at 4-3 he broke the Scot to love and went on to close out the match and the upset of the week. He now meets Dominic Thiem in search of a place in the semis. The Austrian beat Grigor Dimitrov in one of the best matches so far in the tournament, which went to a third-set tiebreak where Thiem saved 5 match points, three on the trot, to eventually make his way through.
For their part, Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych bowed out to David Goffin and Alexander Zverev, respectively. The German is now in the quarter-finals his first time in Madrid, where he is having an impressive week, having beaten Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes. Beforehand, on the same court, Milos Raonic fell to David Goffin. The Belgian player beat the number five seed in two sets (6-4, 6-2)