Federer adds Italian Open to his Roland Garros preparation | AP sports

Favourites advance to set up packed Madrid last eight

But Federer saved them all to keep the set on serve as the 37 year old showed all his experience and it went to a tie-break, which proved to be an epic.

The fifth-seeded Austrian, who saved two match points, will face Novak Djokovic on Saturday after the world number one's opponent Marin Cilic withdrew with food poisoning.

Federer caught Monfils napping for the opening 20 minutes of the match and could have completed a quick-fire match win had the entertaining Frenchman not awoken from his slumber.

Earlier in the week, Federer adapted well to his first clay-court tournament in three years with wins over the French pair Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils.

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Roger Federer will play in next week's Italian Open as he warms up for his return to the French Open for the first time in four years, the 20-time Grand Slam victor announced on Saturday. He has already won two hard-court titles this season, in Dubai and Miami, and is seeking his third Madrid trophy, and first since 2012.

Simona Halep is one match away from regaining the world No 1 position after she reached the women's final with a 6-2, 6-7, 6-0 victory over Switzerland's Belinda Bencic.

American Sloane Stephens got past Petra Martic in two sets and will face Kiki Bertens, who upset defending champion Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-3 in a rematch of last year's final.

The Italian Open starts on Sunday and Federer has a first-round bye as the No.3 seed.

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Thiem staved off the match points in the second set tiebreaker and then outplayed the Swiss star in the third.

At times in the match, Federer appeared livid and could be heard shouting at himself.

Zverev roared back in the second but double faulted twice serving at 1-2 down in the decisive third, with Tsitsipas breaking and striding to victory in the battle between two of the sport's young talents. "I thought I played well", he said. "But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it's all good". I'm very, very happy to win.

It will be the second final of the season for the top-ranked Djokovic, who began the year by winning the Australian Open.

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Over the last seven, eight years he's been fantastic - the trophies he has helped us win. I just try to my best and make them happy. Now the dream is to win the trophy".


Thiem lost the Madrid final to Nadal in 2017 and to Alexander Zverev in 2018. "I'm very happy with the way that I played and in general terms, it was a great performance", Nadal said. "He's won the last three Slams and he is at the top of the ranking again".

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