Halep holds off Barty to reach semis as Ferrer calls time on career at Madrid - GulfToday

Halep holds off Barty to reach semis as Ferrer calls time on career at Madrid

David-Ferrer

David Ferrer waves to the fans after playing the last match of his career against Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

Two-time champion Simona Halep overcame Ashleigh Barty 7-5, 7-5 to reach her fourth Madrid Open semi-final on Thursday. Romania’s third seed and former world number one will next play the winner from top seed Naomi Osaka and on-form Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Halep, who has been struggling with injury, took the opening set and went up a break in the second before losing it against the ninth-seeded Australian who won the Miami title in March.

Halep regained control with a break for 6-5 as her opponent returned wide. She wrapped up victory with an untouchable forehand to the corner.

“It’s not easy to keep winning here,” Halep said after a victory in which she broke four times.

“But I’m very motivated after reaching the semi-finals again. I will have another challenge tomorrow (Friday), so I’m not looking any further ahead than that.

“If I can play my best tennis, then we will see,” added the player who advanced through her third-round match on Wednesday without the loss of a game.

Meanwhile, Ferrer bowed out after losing to Zverev, calling time on a distinguished career that included 27 ATP titles and a highest ranking of number three in the world.

Renowned for his never-say-die attitude, the 37-year-old reached the French Open final in 2014, as well as five more Grand Slam semi-finals.

“I couldn’t have given more to this sport,” said Ferrer, who left his bandana on the ‘T’ of the service box.

“I don’t know what my legacy will be but I always fought until the last point. Maybe it will be that.”

Juan Martin del Potro lost 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to Serbia’s Laslo Djere in his first match since February as the Argentine continues to work his way back from a knee injury.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer saved two match points to defeat France’s Gael Monfils 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3) on Thursday to reach the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

Federer trailed 4-2 in the deciding set before levelling at 4-4. The 20-time Grand Slam winner then saved match points in the 12th game before sweeping through the tiebreaker to record his 1,200th career win.

Federer, playing his first clay court tournament in three years, will face Austrian fifth seed and recent Barcelona champion Dominic Thiem on Friday for a place in the semi-finals.

Earlier, Novak Djokovic defeated Jeremy Chardy 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) on Thursday at the Madrid Open to extend his domination of French opponents.

The Serb top seed needed less than 90 minutes to reach the quarter-finals at the Caja Magica, beating Chardy for the 13th time in as many attempts.

Djokovic holds an overwhelming record against the French, standing 66-2 against them since leading Serbia to the 2010 Davis Cup title over France.

Djokovic, the Madrid champion in 2011 and 2016, is searching for his top clay form as he begins the chase a fourth straight Grand Slam title when Roland Garros starts in little over two weeks.

He secured the opening set in less than half an hour, but was forced to a tiebreaker as Chardy’s resistance stiffened in the second.

He will face ninth seed Marin Cilic next after the Croatian put out Laslo Djere 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, winning 11 of the last 13 games.

Romania’s third seed and former world number one will next play the winner from top seed Naomi Osaka and in-form Swiss Belinda Bencic.

Belinda Bencic knocked top seed Naomi Osaka out in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Thursday with a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 comeback win.

Agencies

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Team Emirates’ Pogacar claims podium finish

A monumental final push in the UAE heat from Tadej Pogacar wasn’t enough to take the win in the third stage of the team’s home country as Adam Yates...


The 184km Emirates Stage finished with an exhausting 10.8km climb as Yates launched a surprisingly early attack with 6km to go. Pogacar didn’t react to Yates’ initial acceleration but then ripped clear of the chasing group with 5km remaining, finishing second in the stage, claiming the young rider’s jersey and ending the day second in the GC in a successful day for the team.

Pogacar said “It was extremely hot today, so for me on a climb like that in those temperatures it was a really good ride and I’m pleased.

“There is still three stages with another big mountain stage and the chance of crosswinds tomorrow so it’s not over yet. We have a strong team here so will try something for sure.”

Pogacar will get another chance to claim back the one minute GC deficit as the fifth stage of the Tour finishes at the same Jebel Hafeet summit.

Pogacar will wear the white young rider’s jersey in Wednesday’s stage as the race sees the riders return to the flats which will come as welcome relief for the sprinters.

The Emirates NBD Stage starts from Zabeel Park, crosses Mushrif Park and Motor City before finishing at Dubai City Walk where the popular walkway has been transformed as part of the racing route.

British climber Yates pulverised the opposition on the tough, final ascent of stage, winning by over a minute and taking the overall race lead.

His compatriot Chris Froome was dropped early in the race.

The four-time Tour de France winner again struggled on his comeback from injuries sustained last May.

The 27-year-old Yates is also making his 2020 debut and looks favourite to win in a competitive field after his stunning attack from 6km out at the end of a warm day with temperatures passing 30C.

“I attacked maybe a little too early, but in the end I felt good,” said Yates, whose win gives him a 1min 07sec lead in the overall.

“A minute is a lot, but we have to do this climb again, and maybe my legs won’t be so good then,” Yates said in reference to stage five.

“Also tomorrow I heard a rumour there are going to be crosswinds, so we’ll see.”

Yates was followed up the final 10.6km Jebell Hafeet climb at a 7 per cent gradient by a trio of challengers with Slovenian prodigy Pogacar finishing 1min 03sec adrift.

Astana’s Alexey Lutsenko was third at 1min 30sec accompanied by up-and-coming Frenchman David Gaudu.

Yates came fourth at the 2016 Tour de France and is targeting the Grand Boucle this summer where he will lead the Australian team ahead of his brother Simon.

Wednesday’s flat stage, the fourth of seven, is a 173km run to Dubai City Walk where a mass bunch sprint is expected.





Stage 3 Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 4h42’34”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:03

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:30

General Classification Results

1. Adam Yates (GBR) Mitchelton-Scott 12h30’02”

2. Tadej Pogacar (SLO) UAE Team Emirates +1:07

3. Alexey Lutsenko (KAZ) Astana +1:35

22 hours ago