Novak Djokovic to return to ATP tour in Rome after injury
Rafael Nadal on course to defend Madrid Open title
Nadal plays Kei Nishikori in Sunday's final
Maria Sharapova to play Simona Halep in women's final in Madrid
Injury doubt Novak Djokovic has confirmed his participation, new dad Roger Federer is a maybe, but they will go into the Rome Masters next week in the knowledge their old nemesis Rafael Nadal is finding his feet on clay again after some shock recent defeats.
Nadal booked his participation in his 90th ATP Tour final with a 6-4 6-3 win over fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut at the Madrid Open Saturday – always in command in the one hour 43 minute clash.
Nadal, who is the defending champion at the Masters 1000 event, lost in the quarterfinals at Monte Carlo and Barcelona to David Ferrrer and Nicolas Almagro to show rare vulnerability on his favorite surface.
But bidding for his 27th crown in Masters events, the world number one has looked more comfortable and faces Kei Nishikori in Sunday’s final after the Japanese star won a quite extraordinary match against Ferrer.
Nishikori, who won the Barcelona title, saw Ferrer save no less than nine match points before converting his 10th in a 7-6 5-7 6-3 victory in a shade under three hours.
Second-ranked Djokovic was due to play in Madrid, but pulled out at the last minute due to the right wrist injury which first hit him in Monte Carlo.
The Serbian has been training hard ahead of an early return with the French Open looming and took to social media Saturday to indicate he would be back in the Foro Italico next week.
“Rome her I come!” tweeted Djokovic, who will be in the same side of the draw as Federer, whose wife Mirka gave birth to a second set of twins, sons Leo and Lenny earlier this week.
Federer, who has been showing improved form all year, will definitely play at the second grand slam of the season in Paris later this month, but his participation in Rome is still uncertain.
“Roger plans on playing Roland Garros and he will make a decision at the last minute if he will play Rome depending on how everything is going with his family,” his agent Roger Godsick told the official ATP Tour website.
Meanwhile in the women’s WTA tournament in Madrid, Maria Sharapova will play Simona Halep of Romania in Sunday’s final.
Sharapova, fresh off her Stuttgart success, brushed aside Agnieszka Radwanska to advance to the tile match in Madrid for a second straight year.
The Russian built on a fast start and despite a second set rally from Radwanska was a 6-1 6-4 winner.
“It’s great to have these results, over No.3 in the world today and yesterday beating Li Na, who is No.2 in the world. These were my goals at the beginning of the season, physically and mentally after a long layoff,” she said.
By contrast, the other semifinal was a close and grueling affair, with Halep eventually prevailing 6-7 6-3 6-2 in two hours 36 minutes against former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.
Halep, bidding for her eighth title since last year’s Madrid tournament, trailed a set and 3-1 before winning eight straight games to take a stranglehold on the match.
Halep is already looking forward to the final. “Of course, tomorrow will be a very tough match. Maria is a great champion. And she’s playing really well here. I will just try to be happy and enjoy being in the final,” she told the WTA Tour website.