Lesia Tsurenko remains a very underrated player on tour right now in my eyes, admittedly there was a poor effort against an inform Shuai Peng in Dubai, but the hardcourt form has been decent since last summer. The Ukranian won a tournament in Guangzhou in September, defeating Jankovic in the final and has started this season off in decent nick. She can cause damage off both wings, I like the backhand especially, it’s quite ‘punchy’. She won WTA Acapulco last week without dropping a set all week. In the Final, she beat Kristina Mladenovic, the second seed. Mladenovic struggled to find her form in the first set and with both players struggling to hold in the second, Tsurenko eventually kept it together for a 6/1 7/5 win. Kiki Mladenovic still has a lapse effort left in her even though there is much improvement. The loss to Wang recently and the slow start in this one shows she just needs to find a bit of consistency. She beat Karolina Pliskova recently, so we know it’s there, this after winning in St Petersburg. Eugenie Bouchard flattered to deceive again as she got easily beaten in her first round match by Croat, Ajla Tomljanovic. Top seed Mirjana Lucic-Baroni pulled out during her semi-final against Tsurenko at 0/5. The fast courts were obviously suiting the Croat’s game, but Tsurenko may well have had too much on the day anyway.
Ashleigh Barty continued her impressive comeback with a title in Kuala Lumpur. The Ozzy had a year and a half out of the game, whilst she turned her attention to Women’s Big Bash League cricket. She has posted some decent results since returning to action on the grass last summer. She went through two rounds of qualies here before winning her 5 main draw matches. Top seed and defending champion Elina Svitolina pulled out of the tournament before her second-round match with Nao Hibino with a calf injury. The other main contenders all fell by the wayside. Carla Suarez Navarro making her first appearance since the Australian looked well below par in her defeat to Miyu Kato in the opener. Shuai Peng looked like she was the player to beat after Svitolina’s withdrawal, but she retired in her second round clash against Magda Linette with a back injury. Barty beat Hibino in the final with the serving stats looking good all week.
Andy Murray obliged with victory in Dubai. The Scot having a mamouth tie breaker against Phillip Kohlschreiber in the Quarter’s, saving 7 match points in the process. Kohlschreiber gave him a real fright and produced some high-quality tennis here. We all know the German is capable of high-level tennis, but his problem in the past to close out matches and his knack of wasting chances was once again brought to the forefront here. Naturally, Murray ran away with the decider 6/1. As we know Murray should be winning these events now with relative ease, especially after Stan Wawrinka lost to the tricky Bosnian Damir Dzumhur in his opener. Even more surprisingly Federer got taken out by Evgeny Donskoy. The Fed-Express blew several chances (in both tie-breaks) and served for the match in the third. He said afterward interestingly that he didn’t feel “committed”. He came into the tournament with an upper leg injury and despite winning the OZ he is actually still early on into his comeback. The matchups were kind for Muzza on his way to the title, but he still got the job done with ease aside from Kohlschreiber. He ousted Fernando Verdasco in the final after the Spaniard had a fruitful week, raising his game in beating Bautista Agut and Gael Monfils. The Spaniard changed up his tactics here by taking speed off the serve and getting a higher percentage of first serves in, interestingly as compromise has never been part of Nando’s armory. Robin Haase deserves a mention from last week. The Dutchman seems to be playing well the last few weeks, how long that will continue for remains to be seen, Verdasco ending his run in the semis.
In Sao Paolo, it’s worth noting Diego Schwartzman disappointed me this week. I really think he’s a useful operator the Argentine, especially on the clay. He does, however, seem to fall into a similar category to Kohlschreiber. I have also seen him throw away several higher profile matches from winning positions now. It’s a shame as I really like his game, especially for a little lad, he generates a lot of power on the forehand wing. I thought he blew a big chance against Nishikori a few weeks back and he certainly did here. A set and points for 5/2 and 3/0 in the decider were both blown against eventual champion, Pablo Cuevas in the Quarter-Finals. Cuevas went on from here beating the top two seeds, Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the last two rounds (serving underarm on the final point of the match). The Uruguayan had lost his last 4 matches going into this, including a defeat recently to Arthur De Greef in Rio (where he also won last year). He seems to especially like the conditions here though as he has now won last 3 years.
As I have said, the courts were playing fast over in Acapulco. Sam Querrey came away with the title here, I often don’t give Querrey much praise but the lads efforts merit it in Mexico. His serve and booming forehand doing the damage in the final against Nadal as it did in his semi against Nick Kyrgios. The Australian coming up with a big effort in the previous round by beating Djokovic as he blasted the Serb off the court, he didn’t quite back it up against Querrey though. Nadal had looked comfortable all week until the final, including an easy win over third seed Marin Cilic in the semis. Querrey had been impressive all week though with wins over Edmund, Goffin and Thiem in the lead up to his semi with Kyrgios. Nadal had few answers in the final and was under constant pressure against the American, the Spaniard failing to break his opponents serve throughout. Play it again Sam!
Andy Del Potro