Favourites advance to set up packed Madrid last eight

Kei Nishikori was the only player to be beaten by a lower ranked player at the Madrid Open on Thursday as the stars delivered on the clay.

Madrid Open defending champion Alexander Zverev will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinal.   -  Getty Images

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were joined by defending champion Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals on a day of few shocks at the Madrid Open.

World number one Djokovic and five-time winner Nadal each progressed in straight sets, seeing off Jeremy Chardy and Frances Tiafoe respectively.

Federer and Zverev had a little more difficulty in their contests, but the Swiss great pipped Gael Monfils in a strange clash. Federer won the opener 6-0 but was taken the distance.

Meanwhile, Zverev was facing an early exit against emerging Polish talent Hubert Hurkacz, who won the first set and claimed four break points before being edged out 3-6 6-4 6-4.

READ | Nadal comfortable in last-16 defeat of Tiafoe

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas each advanced in straight sets, but Kei Nishikori suffered Thursday's sole upset, going down 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to Stan Wawrinka.

 

DJOKOVIC WARY OF CILIC

 

Marin Cilic is up next for Djokovic, having rallied from a set down to defeat Laslo Djere, and the 15-time grand slam winner expects a tricky contest.

"I have a good record against him but I have also lost some big matches against him," he said. "I looked forward to it. It's a big challenge.

"He has made some great comebacks already here in this tournament – he won all three matches he played in three sets – so he's a quality opponent.

"He's someone who has been my rival and my friend on the Tour for many years. Big serve, big game."

FEDERER ON THE OFFENSIVE

 

Federer might have been given a scare, but he was pleased to be ultimately rewarded for an aggressive approach as he continues to adapt to the clay courts once more.

"This match, regardless if it was win or lose, gave me a lot of information," he said. "You saw how tricky clay can be, with the swirling winds, the slippery surfaces, the bad bounces, the altitude here in Madrid.

"It's not simple just to hit a few shots. This is a different type of clay-court tennis. I had to stay aggressive, take on the half-volleys, take on the bad bounces and let them happen. I was always trying to play aggressive, positive tennis and it paid off today."

NADAL READY FOR WAWRINKA

 

The unseeded Wawrinka might have enjoyed the day's one shock on paper, but Nadal is well aware what his next opponent is capable of.

"It's a tough one. He's one of the best players in the world," Nadal said. "He likes to play in these conditions, fast, altitude, big serve, big shot.

"It's this kind of match where I have to be at my best, I have to have something else. I'm ready to make that happen."