APRIL 22 - MAY 5, 2024

Nishikori wins his opener

Kei Nishikori is through to the last sixteen of the Mutua Madrid Open after beating Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 7-5, in a two-hour match. The Japanese, who opened the day’s play in the Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario Stadium, was asked questions despite taking an early 5-2 lead. However, Nishikori’s experience was enough to hold off his opponent and eventually take a first set that was more difficult than expected.

As if the start of the match were not intense enough, it was cranked up a notch for the tournament’s sixth seed in the second set. Dellien, who came through qualifying to reach the Mutua Madrid Open’s main draw, refused to back down and managed to keep his chances alive. Both intensified their game on the return but not on their serve. There were as many as twelve opportunities to break, however, again in the eleventh game, Nishikori justified his status as favourite to close out the match.

Nishikori’s opponent in the next round will be Swiss player Stan Wawrinka who, still yet to drop a set in Madrid, defeated the Argentine Guido Pella 6-3, 6-4. The world number 34 controlled the match throughout and a break in each set allowed him to seal his passage to his seventh appearance in the last sixteen of the Mutua Madrid Open. Dominating the big moments (he saved 5 out of 5 break points), allowed the Swiss to hold off his opponent, who is enjoying a good season, particularly on clay. It was, therefore, a significant scalp that will give him confidence for the rest of the tournament.

Having recently celebrated a title in Estoril, Stefanos Tsitsipas notched up his first victory in Madrid after seeing off Adrian Mannarino, the tournament’s ‘lucky loser’ after the withdrawal of Tsonga. The Greek showed no signs of fatigue after playing consecutive weeks and was asked few questions by his opponent on his way to victory, despite few opportunities to train on the Madrid clay. After one hour and 17 minutes and a 6-2, 7-5 win, Tsitsipas will now meet the winner of the tie between Spaniard Fernando Verdasco and the Russian Karen Khachanov in the last sixteen.

For his part, the tournament’s tenth seed, Fabio Fognini beat the Australian John Millman with a convincing 6-2, 6-2. Consistent in every department of his game, the world number twelve cruised to victory once again in the Caja Mágica. The new champion of the Monte Carlo ATP Masters 1000 will be sure to put a fight up against Dominic Thiem (no. 5) tomorrow.

Another player enjoying some fine form in Madrid is Gael Monfils. The Frenchman stamped his ticket to the last sixteen by beating the Hungarian world number 18 Marton Fucsovics 1-6 6-4 6-2, in just under two hours. Monfils clearly improved throughout the match and capitalised on his fitness and the confidence he has found in 2019 to turn the score around and record his second victory on clay this season. The Frenchman, who has not reached the last sixteen in Madrid for seven years, will now have to take on the tournament’s big attraction: Roger Federer.