“It was a very positive match. I’m very happy with the way that I played and in general terms, it was a great performance,” Nadal said. “I’m happy, it was an important moment for me and I’m really happy to be through this way.”
It will be Nadal’s record 70th ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, as he looks to extend his record number of trophies at the elite level to 34. The second seed has emerged victorious five times in Madrid, and he will try to move one step closer to another triumph on Saturday against reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals.
“He’s playing well. He won last week in Estoril and he’s already won a lot of good matches this week. He comes to that semi-final with plenty of confidence. It’s going to be a tough one, I hope to be ready for it,” Nadal said. “I’ll need to play my best. Today was a good example. I need to continue tomorrow, that’s the goal.”
Most ATP Masters 1000 Semi-finals
Wawrinka earned one of his three FedEx ATP Head2Head wins against the Spaniard on the clay of Rome four years ago. But Nadal was ruthless in the last match of the day, breaking the Swiss star’s serve four times to advance after one hour and eight minutes. Nadal now leads Wawrinka 18-3 in their rivalry, and all 18 of his wins have come in straight sets.
“Wawrinka had won three matches pretty well. He’s been playing really well on clay in the past few weeks and he also beat Nishikori, who is also a very tough player, so he was playing really good,” Nadal said. “I was expecting a tough match today.
I knew that I had to play a little better and fortunately it was a good day for me. I have been lucky. It was an important day for me [because] I have been able to work through to the next stage.
I have done really good things today.”
Nadal has made the semi-finals of four consecutive tournaments (also Indian Wells, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona), and he is pursuing his first tour-level final since the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic). The 32-year-old is trying to capture an ATP Tour crown for the 16th consecutive year, dating back to his first title at 2004 Sopot.
Wawrinka entered the match having won all 30 of his service games this week, but he successfully held serve just three times from seven tries. Nadal won 56 per cent of his return points, doing well to keep the 34-year-old from stepping into the court and exerting his powerful game. The Spaniard consistently attacked with his backhand to push Wawrinka back before using angles to open up the court and dictate play.
“He was trying to with his shot to find my backhand, but I was returning good on the backhand so maybe he didn’t find his place on the court and overall, I was solid,” Nadal said. “On defence, I felt that I had a lot of power in my legs because I wanted to defend properly and my opponent needed better shots in the next shot to make, to harm me a bit more.
And I had a bit more confidence on the winning shot.”
The second set was closer — in score and in rallies — than the 26-minute opener, as Wawrinka attempted to play more aggressively. But Nadal was untroubled, pumping his left fist after Wawrinka missed a backhand chip wide on the Spaniard’s first match point.
Nadal has won all seven sets he has played against Tsitsipas, leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 3-0. But this is the first time the #NextGenATP Greek has entered one of their match’s as a Top 10 player. The Spaniard has broken the three-time ATP Tour titlist’s serve 14 times in their three meetings, with Tsitsipas breaking just once. Tsitsipas is trying to reach his second Masters 1000 final after doing so at the Rogers Cup last year.
Did You Know?
This is the first tournament of 2019 in which that has four Top 10 semi-finalists.