Aptly, on the weekend of the English Grand National the Tennis circuit went with a horses for courses theme.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova is now more than proven over course and distance in Monterrey, 4 times now. One more there Pavy and we can chant the “five times” LFC song at you! She has had a solid, if unspectacular start to the season, but I see an improvement in her game. Pavy played well at the Ozzy, earlier in the year and will have been disappointed not to have pushed Venus slightly closer in that quarter-final contest, she had her chances. In Mexico, she rules though and doubles partner Timea Babos probably caused her the most problems in all honesty in their quarter-final clash. She defeated Caroline Garcia and Kerber in the final with slightly less fuss. The courts really suit her heavy groundstrokes here in a venue that is known for its fast court expertise. The Russian serve and forehand benefit immensely, penetrating the court. With this in mind and Angie’s recent ‘off the boil’ form, it’s not hard to see how an aggressive Pavy, stepping into the court, disposed of the German. Pavy is maturing now though and seems to be gradually improving, let’s not forget her junior record suggests she still has a lot more to offer at the top level. Her hard court qualities have never been in dispute, but she showed last year that she could play on the grass of SW 19 as well. It was also good to see Carla Suarez Navarro find some form after her shoulder problems, she made the semi’s and I hope she can kick on from here.
Daria Kasatkina might have won her first title, but the writing was on the wall after she performed well here, in Charleston last year. She steamrollered her way to the quarter’s last year. Where she was the only player to give eventual champion Sloane Stephens a game, losing 7/5 in the fifth. The big names were sent packing early in America. Top seed Madison Keys, who’s yet to slip into third gear of her comeback lost to Shelby Rogers. Jo Konta’s withdrawal came as no surprise after her Miami exertions. Venus must have been struggling physically after a long month on the hardcourts and lost a three-hour encounter to Laura Siegemund. The same could be said with Wozniacki who lost to eventual runner-up Jelena Ostapenko, I honestly thought the Dane would withdraw like Konta. Elena Vesnina got ousted by Fanny Stollar, I can’t explain this one, but reports suggest Stollar served out of her nut! Siegemund backed it up by beating Safarova and making the semis before running into Kasatkina. The Russian dismantled Ostapenko’s game in the final by being tactically spot on, slicing more as she said in her interview. I don’t think I was the only person not impressed with the Latvian’s interview after. I know she is young, and damned, I’m aware this girl can play lights out tennis, but she needs to learn to take defeat with a bit more class, at least sometimes anyway. I always think of the incident in the Broady match in Auckland last year as an example. I’m not doing this to dig her out and post the video up and look like I’m on a witch hunt. She doesn’t put herself in a great light with handshakes and interviews to name a few. It came across to me, and others, that she basically said afterwards in her on-court speech that she was rubbish and her opponent was defensive, maybe she was just disappointed, but come on. Hopefully, she will learn this isn’t acceptable. The age thing doesn’t really cut it with me, especially as Kasatkina is only one month older! I’d gone reasonably quiet on Daria recently after some praise, a few surprise early losses in Indian Wells and Miami followed. Though I’m a fan, I didn’t see this coming pre-tournament, my pal at work did though so props to him!
To finish off with the horses for courses theme the Davis Cup quarter-finals saw four victories for the home nations, proving the choice of venue and surface were spot on in each case. As you would expect GB struggled on clay in France without Murray. Edmund and Evans got comfortably dealt with by Pouille and Chardy on day one setting the French up for a 4-1 win in Rouen. They will face the Serbs at home in the semi’s, after they dispatched a weekend Spanish side, Djokovic and Troicki doing the damage on the Friday against Ramos and Carreno Busta. The Belgian’s progressed to the semi’s as Steve Darcis continued his impressive Davis Cup form, aided by David Goffin they took out the Italians who quite clearly miss Fognini in these ties. They face off against the Australian’s, who won the tie of the round against the USA. Spearheaded by Nick Kyrgios, who bested Isner and Querrey in straights, Jordan Thompson’s victory over Jack Sock proving massive as the Ozzy’s took the tie 3-2 in Brisbane. Just look at Lleyton in the picture, absolutely buzzin!
Andy Del Potro