Madrid Open: Nadal enters semi-finals; Thiem knocks out Federer

Favourites advance to set up packed Madrid last eight

It was the 1,200th career win for Federer, allowing him to join Jimmy Connors as the only male players to have reached the milestone in the Open Era.

In recent years, Federer has missed the clay-court seasons in its entirety, including the second major of the season-French Open, in order to boost up his preparation for his all-time favourite grass-court season.

Dominic Thiem saved match points to end Roger Federer's clay-court return and reach the Madrid Open semi-finals.

Federer, who will be the third seed in Rome, has a first-round bye and will face either Frances Tiafoe or Joao Sousa in his opening match.

In women's action, Simona Halep has a chance to take back the top ranking back when she plays Kiki Bertens in the Women's final on Saturday.

Thiem broke early in the decider, but Federer responded in typical fashion to make it 4-4.

"Hello everybody, I just finished speaking to the team", he said. However, the 25-year-old broke in the very next game before successfully serving out the match after two hours and 10 minutes of enthralling action.

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"It was one of my best matches in a long time, my best match on clay this year", the second-ranked Spaniard said. I'm very happy with the way that I played and in general terms, it was a great performance.

In the women's competition, two times victor Simona Halep booked her place in Saturday's final with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-0 victory over her unseeded Swiss opponent Belinda Bencic, who on Thursday had surprised number one seed Naomi Osaka. The King of Clay is [1.30] to progress, which actually looks a little on the generous side - I'd be surprised if he was ousted by the current version of Wawrinka in the evening match.

"It was a good match for me, Stan is not an easy opponent regardless of the scoreline", said Nadal after his 14th quarter-final in the last 15 years in the Spanish capital.

Thiem is one of very few players to have a winning record against Federer. "So the challenge couldn't be bigger".

They have played twice past year, when Nadal won with 6-2, 6-1 in the finals of ATP Barcelona and with 6-2, 7-6 in the Toronto Masters finals.

"It (the final) is going to be a really tough battle, I would say".

"It was supposed to be definitely a good match", said Djokovic, who has played only four sets this week.

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