With very few upsets thus far at the Mutua Madrid Open, Friday’s quarter-final slate is chock-full of marquee matchups. All four meetings are worthy of their place on Manolo Santana Stadium, led by the all-Spanish battle between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz.

Alexander Zverev takes on Felix Auger-Aliassime, Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Andrey Rublev, while top seed Novak Djokovic opens play against Hubert Hurkacz. All four doubles quarter-finals are also on a busy schedule.

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[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. [8] Felix Auger-Aliassime

Alexander Zverev dropped the opening set of his Madrid campaign to Marin Cilic, but responded well to win three straight on his way to the quarter-finals. He did not get a chance to win a fourth set after the retirement of Lorenzo Musetti on Thursday. 

Felix Auger-Aliassime has been in blistering form from the start in Madrid. He dropped just three games in each of his opening matches, both against highly rated clay-court players in Cristian Garin and 10th seed Jannik Sinner. 

Zverev leads Auger-Aliassime 4-2 in their ATP Head2Head, though Felix won their last meeting at the ATP Cup in January, an event Team Canada went on to win. That round-robin victory still stands as the eighth seed’s best career win by the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He could match that on Friday by again beating the World No. 3.

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[4] Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. [6] Andrey Rublev

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev first met at the 2018 Intessa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals — a five-set win for the Greek — and have played three times in each of the past two years. They’ve split their eight ATP Head2Head meetings, also sharing the spoils in two round-robin matchups in the 2020 and 2021 Nitto ATP Finals.

Tsitsipas has enjoyed a smooth ride into the quarter-finals, scoring identical 6-3, 6-4 wins against Lucas Pouille and Grigor Dimitrov. Rublev, on the other hand, has battled past two Britons to reach the last eight, beating Jack Draper in three sets and edging Daniel Evans, 7-6(7), 7-5, on Thursday. 

While the Greek has notched a ATP Tour-leading 26 wins in 2022, Rublev is joint-second alongside Alcaraz with 25 and can match his opponent with a victory on Friday.

“I will have to do my job,” Tsitsipas said, previewing the match. “He’s someone that hits the ball hard. Obviously I will have to focus on my defensive game a little bit more. But with the right attitude and the right competitiveness, it’s something that I can really try and get the most out of.”

[3] Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. [7] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Exactly one year and one day since their first ATPHead2Head meeting in the Madrid second round, Nadal and Alcaraz square off in the quarter-finals. Both men won Thursday three-setters to set up their third matchup, with Nadal saving four match points to survive against David Goffin.

Alcaraz celebrated his 19th birthday with a battling win over Cameron Norrie, making him the youngest Madrid quarter-finalist in the tournament’s history. Nadal is the third-youngest to reach that stage in Madrid, having done so in 2005, also at age 19.

“Rafa is the best ever on clay. Even if he says I’m the favourite tomorrow, he’s the five-time champion so he must be the favourite,” Alcaraz said in a post-match press conference. “I’m the new one, the player who shouldn’t feel pressure for competing against one of the all-time greats.

“I’m earning my own path,” he added. “I am very happy for the way the public is cheering me on. But Rafa is Rafa. The people love me more every day, but Rafa is much more famous. I hope a little section of the stadium supports me tomorrow. But I’m ready to know that most of the crowd will be behind him.”

Nadal, who turns 36 on 3 June, is 16 years and 11 months older than his opponent. That age gap is the largest in an ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final since the series started in 1990, spanning 285 events. 

With Alcaraz and Norrie yet to take the court following his marathon victory over Goffin, Nadal’s post-match comments centered on his own game.

“Three hours and 10 [minutes] on court, that helps to increase my physical performance,” he said. “A very important victory, saving match points. That’s confidence, that gives me the chance to keep going. I need matches and I need a day like today to be fitter sooner.”

Nadal was unplayable for stretches against Goffin, but on the whole is still trying to recover the form that’s helped him to a 22-1 record this season as he returns from a six-week layoff due to a fractured rib. Alcaraz is 25-3 on the year, with one of those losses coming in three sets against Nadal in the Indian Wells semi-finals. Both Nadal and Alcaraz have won three tour-level titles in 2022, tying Rublev for the most trophies on the season. 

Alcaraz will rise to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings if he beats Nadal and Andrey Rublev fails to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas. The 19-year-old will also become the first teenager to beat Nadal on a clay court if he ends his opponent’s 25-match winning streak against fellow Spaniards. Nadal is a perfect 20-0 against teens on the surface, and 138-21 against his countryman overall.

[1] Novak Djokovic (SER) vs. [12] Hubert Hurkacz (POL)

After looking sharp in an opening win against Gael Monfils, Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals via a walkover against Andy Murray, who withdrew with illness. The Serbian will have his hands full against Hurkacz in his 88th ATP Masters 100 quarter-final.

Hurkacz has now advanced to three straight quarter-finals, all at the ATP Masters 1000 level, beginning with a semi-final showing as the defending champion at the Miami Open presented by Itau. After losing a third-set tie-break against Grigor Dimitrov at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, the 12th seed won a decisive tie-break against Monte Carlo finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Madrid second round before a straight-sets win over Dusan Lajovic.

Djokovic leads the pair’s ATPHead2Head 3-0, with one win on each surface. After two 2019 meetings at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the World No. 1 won a third-set tie-break to complete a comeback victory in the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals last season — an event he went on to win by beating Daniil Medvedev in the final.


Doubles Quarter-finals

Only two of the top six doubles seeds are still standing in Madrid, and they will meet Friday on Stadium 3 as Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos take on Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. Granollers and Zeballos, the second seeds, took a Match Tie-break on Thursday to start their Madrid campaign with a win. The fifth-seeded Colombians also won a Match Tie-break to start their campaign, then advanced to the quarter-finals with a walkover.

Eighth seeds Jamie Murray and Michael Venus are also in action on Stadium 3, taking on Simone Bolelli and Ivan Dodig.

Two more doubles quarter-finals are set for Arantxa Sanchez Stadium. Seventh seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski will face Tomislav Brkic and Nikola Cacic before two-time Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies of Germany meet Miami champions Hurkacz and John Isner.