It was a great day for Swiss players in Madrid on Thursday, with all three scoring thrilling wins and marching on. World no. 3 and three-time Madrid champion Roger Federer is through to the quarter-final in Madrid after a thrilling 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 triumph over Gael Monfils in two hours, saving two match points in the 12th game of the deciding set.
This was the 376th Masters 1000 win for Roger and the tenth in 14 clashes against Gael, overcoming a slow start of the final set and standing strong on those match points to cross the finish line first in his first ATP tournament on clay since Rome 2016.
Roger grabbed almost 20 points more than his rival but still walked on the edge of defeat in the closing moments, doing everything right in the opening set and having to work much harder in the remaining two sets. The Swiss delivered 33 winners and 25 unforced errors, dominating in the shortest and mid-range rallies to forge the victory and set another entertaining clash versus Dominic Thiem.
Federer produced fury in the opening set, losing nine points in total and fending off both break points he faced to keep the pressure on the other side of the net. Gael never looked like a dangerous rival, winning just five points on serve and finding himself 6-0 down after embarrassing 18 minutes.
Roger broke in the very first game of the match when Gael hit a backhand long and repelled those two break points in the next game to confirm the break and cement the lead. The Swiss broke at 15 to forge a 3-0 advantage after a volley error from the Frenchman, moving 4-0 up with a service winner and scoring the third straight break after a backhand error from Gael who probably wanted to run far away from the court in those moments, with nothing to fire up his shots.
Serving for the set, the Swiss landed three service winners for a 6-0 in 18 minutes, looking good to seal the deal in no time at all. Out of sudden, Monfils found his range at the beginning of the second set, producing a much-needed hold in the first game and breaking Roger at 15 with a forehand winner in game two to move ahead for the first time.
Federer broke back in game seven after a double fault from the Frenchman and had another break point at 4-4 that could have secured the triumph for him. Keeping his focus on a high level, Monfils erased it with a volley winner, making another push on the return in game ten when he grabbed a crucial break for a 6-4 after a loose forehand from the Swiss.
Carried by this momentum, Gael broke in the second game of the decider, saving a break point in the next game to race into a 3-0 lead and increasing his chances of toppling a great rival and making the season an even better one.
Roger delivered some of his old magic to pull the break back with a backhand slice return winner, creating another break point at 5-5. Gael saved it and brought the game home with two excellent points, staying ahead and sending the pressure back to the other side.
Federer felt it big time, saving two match points with well-constructed attacks to send the encounter into a deciding tie break that Roger won 7-2 after service winner to seal the deal and move into the quarters. In the battle of the former Madrid finalist (both beaten by Nadal), Stan Wawrinka took down the 6th seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 in an hour and 35 minutes for only the second Masters 1000 quarter-final after Indian Wells 2017.
The Swiss delivered the seventh victory over the Japanese in 11 matches, blasting nine aces and dropping only 13 points on serve to remain unbroken this week in Madrid after three obstacles. Kei gave his best to stay in touch, fending off two out of three break points and falling in the second set tie break to propel Stan into the last eight.
With 25 winners and 16 unforced errors, Wawrinka had the upper hand on the court and his initial shot carried him throughout the match, hitting a service winner in almost 40% of the points to forge a crucial lead in the shortest department up to four strokes.
It was a brilliant performance from a former Roland Garros champion in the opening set, flying over the court and losing only two points on serve, waiting patiently for the opportunity on the return. It came already in game two, delivering a break when Nishikori sent a backhand long and securing the first part of the match with three service winners in game nine for a 6-3 after swift 26 minutes.
Kei was powerless on the return in set number two as well, unable to read rival's serve more efficiently or to move Stan from the comfort zone. Unlike in the opener, he saved all three break points to set up a tie break that Wawrinka clinched 7-3, running over the top in style and hoping for more of the same in the next test against Rafael Nadal or Frances Tiafoe.
Simona could become world no. 1 again with the title after Belinda Bencic took down Naomi Osaka 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 11 minutes. The Swiss has been on a roll in 2019, delivering five top-5 wins over Simona Halep, Karolina Pliskova, Petra Kvitova and twice over Naomi Osaka who had a big chance to avoid this defeat.
The Japanese led 5-3 in the decider, two points away from the win twice on the return in the next game before Belinda held and broke back to level the score at 5-5 and cross the finish line first after winning the final four games.