Tennis

Djokovic gets walkover to semis, Murray crashes out

Defending champion Novak Djokovic reached the semi-finals of the Madrid Open without hitting a ball yesterday when his quarter-final opponent Kei Nishikori withdrew minutes before the match was due to start with a wrist injury.

The same injury forced world No. 8 Nishikori, seeded sixth in Madrid, to miss the Barcelona Open last month.

He said he aimed to be at next week's Rome Masters.

"Unfortunately, I'm still not 100 per cent so I'd prefer not to take a risk," said the Japanese.

"I'm going to take a couple of days to see how the injury evolves, but I hope to be in Rome."

In today's semi-final, Djokovic will play the winner of yesterday's quarter-final between Belgian David Goffin and four-time winner and home favourite Rafael Nadal, who extended his flawless record on clay this season to 12-0 with a 6-3, 6-1 destruction of Australian Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.

Croatian Borna Coric, conqueror of world No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round, was also scheduled to play Dominic Thiem of Austria, with the winner meeting either German Alexander Zverev or Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay in the other semi-final.

Murray's slump in form continued as he crashed out of the Madrid Masters third round 6-3, 6-3 to lucky loser Borna Coric on Thursday.

Coric was handed a late reprieve to enter the draw in Madrid after losing in qualifying to Mikhail Kukushkin.

"After one match of the quallies where I lost and I was booking my flight back to home," said Coric.

"I couldn't imagine this when I woke up this morning, I always believed, but I wasn't sure how I was going to play.

"In the end, I played as I had dreamed."

Murray cut a frustrated figure as he was swept aside by the 20-year-old Croatian for the second time in the pair's four meetings.

"I didn't help myself find a way into the match to start playing better," said Murray.

"I definitely think I need to be concerned about today.

"It's not always the worst thing losing a match, but it's sometimes the manner of how you lose the match is what can be concerning or disappointing."

In the women's Madrid Open, third seed Simona Halep remained on course to defend her title as she thrashed American Coco Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-1.

Halep faces Latvian Anastasija Sevastova in yesterday's semi-finals after the world No. 22 saw off Kiki Bertens 6-3, 6-3.

Svetlana Kuznetsova ended Eugenie Bouchard's impressive run to the quarters in convincing fashion 6-4, 6-0.

The Russian will meet Kristina Mladenovic in the last four as she beat Sorana Cristea 6-4, 6-4. - WIRE SERVICES