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Anderson first into Madrid Open semifinals

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South Africa’s Kevin Anderson returns the ball to Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic during their ATP Madrid Open quarter-final tennis match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 11, 2018. OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP

Kevin Anderson became the first player to reach the semi-finals of the on-going Madrid Open Tennis Championship when he defeated Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, 7/6(3); 3/6; 6/3. It was their second career meeting. In their previous encounter at the Miami Open in 2017, the world-ranked number nine had also prevailed in two straight sets.

The 27-year-old Lajovic from Belgrade, ranked 95th in the world, had achieved a stunning upset of Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro 3/6; 6/4; 7/6in the preceding round and the fatigue of the Del Potro match lingered.

In the quarterfinal match, Lajovic held his service games and battled Anderson to a tiebreak in the first set. A single break in the second and third sets gave Anderson the victory. In the preceding round, Lajovic had dismissed Belgium’s David Goffin in a lop-sided encounter that ended 6/1; 6/1.
The media euphoria about Nadal’s 50th consecutive wins on one surface and surpassing John McEnroe’s record persisted as the world number one was billed to face Austrian Dominic Thiem in one of the remaining quarterfinal matches.

In his steely focus, Nadal said he did not give much attention to records, which would be references after his playing days. To do otherwise would be an added pressure on the player.

Nadal had defeated Thiem in the finals of Monte Carlo in 2017, but lost their encounter in the 2017 Rome Masters; which was his last loss on clay to date. Nadal’s characteristic respect for his opponents was evident when he acknowledged the Austrian as one of the most dangerous on the tour as evidenced by the number five in the world ranking.

Thiem, on his part, stated that “the greatest challenge in tennis at this time is how to beat Nadal; you have to play at 100 percent.” He had done it in Rome by being very aggressive with few mistakes.

In the lower half of the draw, second seeded Alexander Zverev “Sascha” defeated Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, 6/4; 6/2 to maintain his record of straight set wins n Madrid. He will face the hard serving American, John Isner, who defeated Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in a legion of tie breaks, 6/7(9); 7/6 (3); 7/6(4).
In the fourth quarterfinal match-up, Britain’s Kyle Edmund will face the southpaw from Canada, Denis Shapovolov, who sent out compatriot Milos Raonic in straight sets, 6/4; 6/4.


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