Borna Coric, Pablo Cuevas, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev have never reached the semi-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 event. Two will do so on Friday, one of whom will advance all the way to the final of the Mutua Madrid Open. The unlikely foursome isn’t entirely a surprise. Coric, Cuevas, Thiem and Zverev have each won a clay-court title on the ATP World Tour this season.
Coric earned the biggest win of his career over World No. 1 Andy Murray 23 minutes after Zverev upset No. 11 seed Tomas Berdych on Thursday, making them the first #NextGenATP duo to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 event. Nick Kyrgios, who aged out this season, is the only #NextGenATP player to appear in an ATP Masters 1000 semi-final, doing so at 2016 Miami.
Coric lost to World No. 80 Mikhail Kukushkin in qualifying on Sunday before replacing Richard Gasquet in the main draw. The lucky loser meets No. 8 seed Thiem in a rematch from Miami on March 25, when the Croat saved three set points in the second set to win 6-1, 7-5. Thiem is 0-4 in ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals, though all four losses came against players ranked in the Top 6.
My Masters 1000: Pablo Cuevas
Zverev encounters Cuevas for the first time on tour. The unseeded Uruguayan is into his third ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season after failing to advance this far in his first 28 appearances at this level. Cuevas held two match points against Pablo Carreno Busta at Indian Wells and was two points from defeating Lucas Pouille at Monte-Carlo before losing both of those quarter-finals.
Four-time champion Rafael Nadal and two-time champion Novak Djokovic could meet in the semi-finals, but first they must each defeat a Top 10 opponent on Friday. Djokovic opens play at 12 pm against No. 6 seed Kei Nishikori. Since stunning Djokovic in the 2014 US Open semi-finals, Nishikori has lost his last 10 meetings with the Serbian, including in the 2016 Madrid semi-finals.
Nadal faces No. 9 seed David Goffin for just the second time, having beaten the Belgian 6-3, 6-1 in the Monte-Carlo semi-finals on April 22. Nadal (31) and Goffin (27) lead all players in tour-level victories this season. The fourth-seeded Spaniard is 12-0 on clay in 2017 and could become the first player to sweep the Barcelona, Roland Garros and three clay-court ATP Masters 1000 titles.