Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer headline Friday's quarterfinal action at the 2016 Rio Open in Brazil. The Spanish stars were joined by Dominic Thiem and Alexandr Dolgopolov to create a highly competitive set of matches as the clay-court event winds toward its conclusion.
There aren't nearly as many notable names left standing in the women's draw. The silver lining is that the lack of seeded players created an opportunity for rising stars such as Danka Kovinic and Shelby Rogers to chase down a tournament title.
Let's check out the complete schedule and results for Friday's play at the Jockey Club Brasileiro, which will be updated through the end of play. The scores are followed by a recap of the top storylines.
Men's Day 7 Results
|Quarterfinals||Daniel Gimeno-Traver vs. Guido Pella||Pella: 5-7, 6-1, 7-5|
|Quarterfinals||Pablo Cuevas vs. Federico Delbonis||Cuevas: 6-4, 7-6|
|Quarterfinals||(2) David Ferrer vs. (5) Dominic Thiem||Thiem: 6-3, 6-2|
|Quarterfinals||(1) Rafael Nadal vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov||Nadal def. Dolgopolov (withdraw; shoulder)|
Guido Pella and Daniel Gimeno-Traver put on quite a show in the day's opening match in the men's draw. They battled back and forth for three sets, and while it wasn't an aesthetic masterpiece, the amount of drama deep into the match made up for it.
Gimeno-Traver ended up blinking first, losing his final service game of the match, and his Argentine counterpart served it out to reach the semifinals. After a seesaw match, it was impressive for Pella to close it out in convincing fashion.
TennisTV highlighted his celebration:
Tennis TV @TennisTV
#Pella celebrates after winning a 2 1/2 hour slugfest against #Gimeno-Traver. Recall he saved MPs v Isner. https://t.co/q0Lg1buDxM2016-2-19 19:22:19
The 25-year-old lefty has never captured a title on the main ATP Tour, but he's been picking up confidence with each passing match after upsetting John Isner in the opening round. He'll need to raise his level again in the semifinals in order to keep his run alive.
Elsewhere, Pablo Cuevas' swift dismissal of Federico Delbonis set up a semifinal date with Rafael Nadal, who advanced after Alexandr Dolgopolov, who was forced to withdraw due to a right shoulder injury, according to the tournament's official Twitter account.
Based on the way his year has started off, Nadal could use a win over Cuevas in the worst way. The Spaniard was upset in the first round of the Australian Open and followed that performance up with a third-round exit at the hands of Dominic Thiem in the ATP Argentina Open last week.
Now with a shot to qualify for his first championship since getting bounced by Novak Djokovic in Qatar with a title on the line at the ExxonMobil Open, the pressure is on Nadal to break through.
And if Nadal can, in fact, break through, he'll have a chance to exact revenge against Thiem—who gashed David Ferrer in the quarterfinals to clinch a spot in the semifinals against Pella.
Coming off a championship at the Argentina Open last week, Thiem is undoubtedly the player to beat. His confidence has rolled over in a major way with three straight-set victories this week, and a dominant outing against Ferrer made a statement.
With a chance to secure back-to-back titles and head into spring with a full head of steam, Thiem has the chops necessary to creep into the Grand Slam conversation and secure sleeper status before the French Open.
Women's Day 7 Results
|Quarterfinals||Cindy Burger vs. Francesca Schiavone||Schiavone: 3-6, 7-6, 6-3|
|Quarterfinals||Petra Martic vs. (6) Lara Arruabarrena||Martic: 6-4, 5-7, 7-5|
|Quarterfinals||Shelby Rogers vs. Paula Cristina Goncalves||Rogers: 6-2, 5-7, 6-3|
|Quarterfinals||Sorana Cirstea vs. (3) Danka Kovinic||Cirstea: 6-1, 6-2|
Few players on the WTA Tour are better fighters than Francesca Schiavone. The 35-year-old veteran proved that again Friday as she came back from a set down to eliminate Cindy Burger, who let several chances to close out the match slip away in the second set.
Schiavone plays a defensive style best suited for clay, which she used to reach the French Open final twice, including her only Grand Slam title in 2010. The next couple of months leading up to the season's second major at Roland Garros represent a chance for her to make a move up the rankings.
Jonathan Newman of The Body Serve podcast noted the progress she can make this week:
Jonathan Newman @SportScribeCA
Schiavone d. Burger 3-6 7-6 6-3 to reach Rio SF after saving match point, now two wins from returning to WTA top 100.2016-2-19 19:18:10
Whether Schiavone is capable of making another deep run at the French Open at this stage of her career is still a mystery. At the least, her results in Rio suggest she's trending in the right direction with a few more months to improve her form.
Petra Martic and Lara Arruabarrena had an equally intense encounter. Arruabarrena had emerged as one of the top contenders left in the women's bracket, but Martic pulled off her second notable upset of the event after previously having knocked off top seed Teliana Pereira.
The Croatian, who came into the week ranked No. 162 in the world, is playing some of her best tennis since 2011. It's coming at a perfect time, too. The draw is wide-open, and if she maintains this form, she has a realistic shot of claiming her first title on the main tour.
WTA Scores showcased the impressive performance through three rounds:
WTA Scores @Scores_WTA
Great come-back from Martic. Wins over #43 Pereira, #179 Erakovic, #89 Arruabarrena. First top 50 win since 2013 Cincy (Urszula Radwanska).2016-2-19 21:12:43
She'll face Schiavone, who owns six career titles, in the semifinals. It'll mark the second career meeting between the pair. Schiavone won the first one in 2013, which also came on clay in Marrakech.
The biggest key for Martic is keeping her unforced-error total low. She has the power to control the points against the more defensive-minded Italian. But that advantage will go by the wayside if she makes too many mistakes early in the match.
All results courtesy of the tournament's official website.