Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Nadal dismisses talk of Djokovic 'slump'

Madrid Open Kei Nishikori injury sends Novak Djokovic through Simona Halep rolls Nadal dismisses talk of Djokovic 'slump'
Rita Gibson | 16 May, 2017, 07:59

Rafael Nadal from Spain returns a ball to David Goffin from Belgium during a Madrid Open tennis tournament match in Madrid, Spain, Friday, May 12, 2017.

Novak Djokovic is one step away from successfully defending his Madrid Open title after being handed a walkover win in his semi-final with Kei Nishikori.

Goffin put up a spirited fight against the Spaniard until the tie-break, which was dominated by Nadal who converted his second set point.

The level of play from both players rose in a remarkable game with Goffin serving at 2-4 down as he kept Nadal at bay despite facing four break points, including one incredible cross-court backhand as he ran back to the baseline after being lobbed.

Nadal last beat the world number two in the 2014 French Open final. In 20 games this year the Serb scored 16 victories and conceded 4 times, for comparison in the last three seasons he suffered 8, 6 and 9 defeats, winning more than 60 times.

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Nadal has won the last two tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and has made five finals in 2017, while Djokovic is making it past the quarter-final stage of a tournament for the first time since his win at the Doha Open in January. "I know that to be able to have chances, I have to give 100 percent..."

"It will be a very hard match against one of the best sportsmen this sport has ever had, and to have a chance I'll have to be at my very best", Nadal said. He was beaten by qualifier Denis Istomin in the second round of the Australian Open. ― Reuters picMADRID, May 13 ― Rafael Nadal insisted the furore caused by Novak Djokovic's dip in form over the past year has been overblown as he prepares to face the Serb for the 50th time.

"Let's respect his level right now because it's true that perhaps it's not as high as he used to be, but I can also tell you it's (been) a lot of years". Djokovic has always been super consistent.

The world number eight missed the Barcelona Open late last month due to the recurring problem.

Croatian Borna Coric, conqueror of world number one Andy Murray in the third round, plays Dominic Thiem of Austria later on Friday with the victor meeting Pablo Cuevas in the other semi-final after the Uruguayan beat German Alexander Zverev 3-6 6-0 6-4. "I'm expecting the best Djokovic tomorrow".

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