Federer survives match points to beat Monfils

Favourites advance to set up packed Madrid last eight

He will next face the victor of the other semifinal between Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who play later Saturday.

So he went into all-out attacking mode, charging to the net to try to avoid a disappointing end to his first clay-court tournament since 2016. The Swiss lost the 2013 Madrid final to Nadal. "I was really lucky to save the match points".

Thiem has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off because of Cilic's withdrawal.

Thiem broke Federer for the first time in the third game of the third set, converting his ninth break opportunity of the match.

Federer will next face fifth-seeded Dominic Thiem, who defeated Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-5. "I'm very, very pleased with this win". The Madrid Open is his first clay tournament as he prepares to return to the French Open after a three-year absence.

Meanwhile, Simona Halep closed in on a return to the top of the world rankings after beating Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-0 to advance to the women's final. The Austrian was also attempting to become the first player to win three titles this season, adding to triumphs in Indian Wells and Barcelona.

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Halep, now number three in the world, will reclaim the number one ranking should she win her third title at the Caja Magica.

But this proved to be a false dawn as Thiem broke again in the next game and he served it out to clinch an epic victory.

And he could meet the Spaniard in the final, if he can battle past Djokovic this afternoon. Two times finals here [in Madrid], two semis and a final Roland Garros, and I know myself how tough it is to get to these deep stages.

"I played with better rhythm and showed some positive things", said Nadal, who missed practice time earlier in the week because of a stomach virus. It was his 13th consecutive win over Chardy, all in straight sets.

The momentum fizzled out though and a game later Thiem broke again for 5-4 with a lob victor.

Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas each advanced in straight sets, but Kei Nishikori suffered Thursday's sole upset, going down 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to Stan Wawrinka. Zverev overcame a slow start to rally past Pol Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

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