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Roger Federer barely survived a third round scare at the Madrid Open, proving his worries about Roland Garros may have been justified all along

Roger Federer, from Switzerland, returns the ball to Gael Monfils, from France, during the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Federer won the first set in a blink but Monfils found his form, grabbing an early break and hanging on to force the decider.

Federer's match alone was highly entertaining, although it...

"Today was so close, I was really lucky", said Thiem. "I was very nervous, so I just figured, 'come to the net, take a chance, ' and it worked out".

It all led to a gripping third set, one which Federer and Monfils exchanged the lead, with both players gunning for the win. The statistics show that usually you are in good shape. "You can dream about 6-Love, 6-Love but they never happen", Federer said. "He really got into a great groove after that, he had great intensity".

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"Roger is playing really well on clay so I am really happy".

The evergreen Federer did not drop a game in a dominant first set but was dragged into an intense battle by an inspired Monfils before prevailing 6-0 4-6 7-6 (3).

In the women's competition, French Open champion Simona Halep is through to the final after fending off a tough challenge from Belinda Bencic.

The two-time Madrid champion was awaiting the victor of the second semi-final between Sloane Stephens and Kiki Bertens, and will overtake Naomi Osaka at the top of the rankings if she wins. That proved to be the only break of the set as Federer clinched it on the second set point after 36 minutes.

Thiem took that momentum on into the deciding set and finally broke Federer in the third game.

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"It was frustrating, clearly - losing with match points is the worst". The 20-time Grand Slam champion was back in control in the tiebreaker, winning six of the first seven points. He won the Rotterdam title in February.

The 37-year-old Federer will now face Dominic Thiem, who beat the Swiss legend in the Indian Wells final. Zverev overcame a slow start to rally past Pol Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Thiem's next opponent, Djokovic, will be well rested after Cilic's unfortunate exit.

Austria's Thiem eventually came through 3-6 7-6 (13-11) 6-4 to set up a meeting with world number one Novak Djokovic.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were Stefanos Tsitsipas and Stan Wawrinka, who defeated sixth-seeded Kei Nishikori in two sets.

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