As the weeks roll by and Rafa’s utter dominance on the clay continues, it’s apparent that the French is blatantly a spot-kick. What could possibly go wrong? Either injury or a Soderling type performance, which was an anomaly! Complacency? This is Nadal we are talking about, so absolutely zero chance of that happening. I just cannot see who can beat him, if nobody can over 3 then what chance have they got over 5? Dominic Thiem comes out of this week with a huge amount of credit again. He threw the absolute kitchen sink at Nadal in the final and did everything he possibly could to stay with the Spaniard, but damn it seems an impossible task right now again. I said recently that if he gets drawn in the other half to Rafa at the French then he will fancy his chances of making his way through that section. He has to be the number 2 on clay as it stands on current form and our sample size is only increasing this season! The two of them gave us a high-quality affair in Madrid, using up just about every possible inch of the court resulting in some stunning winners. Fabio Fognini & David Goffin also gave the Spaniard decent workouts last week, Djokovic less so in their semi-final encounter, still not there yet. Thiem was lucky to survive a Dimitrov blow up but apart from that looked in control. Pablo Cuevas posted another useful effort making the semi’s, he took out the lad Zverev in the last 8. My pal alerted me to a worldy from Cuevas in this match, class! I do enjoy watching Uruguyan it has to be said. Zverev once again did enough this week, including victories over Cilic and Berdych to show his body is holding up nicely to the physical demands of the game. The German was on the back of winning in Munich last week remember. I’m feeling for Muzza right now as it’s just not going his way. After losing to Borna Coric he said he needed ”to be concerned about today” in reference to his level of performance. Gotta love his honesty, he was also full of praise for Coric, he mentioned the serve, movement and consistency that the 20-year-old Croat has at his disposal.
Simona Halep defended her title in Madrid and looks to have regained a bit of the focus and confidence that has been lacking for some time now. Probably summed up by her comeback from 2-5 in the decider against Vinci in the second round. She just looks more solid again right now, more mental tests should be round the corner for the Romanian in the near future. She beat Kiki Mladenovic in the final, who was suffering from a lower back injury but dug deep and just got on with it! Halep getting enough errors out of the backhand in the end. When Kiki bosses the point on her forehand though she’s powerful to watch. There was some bite earlier in the week as Bouchard and Sharapova faced off in the second round. Genie’s ”cheat” quote and the comments that the Russian should not be allowed to play again were obviously bought to the table prematch. The Canadian rolled back the years though in going after her shots and told afterward how a lot of players were on her side, wishing her well in the locker room and receiving texts from other players. She also went on to say she doesn’t usually even speak to some of these players, point made!!. It took an outstanding performance from Svetlana Kuznetsova to beat her in the quarters. I really think that Kuzzy will go well at the French this year, especially if she gets a reasonable draw. She does tend to blow hot and cold though as she proved against Mladenovic in the semi. She wasn’t awful here but it just wasn’t quite to the same level as previous rounds. Second Seed Karolina Pliskova went first up to Anastasija Sevastova, who went on to make the semis before meeting Halep. This was a good week for Latvian who has the ability to mix her game up nicely, a very tricky opponent at times. Kerber was getting ousted by Bouchard before pulling out at 0/5 in the second with a hamstring injury. It turns out it was only a muscle strain for the German, so no major issues on that front, the problems still look deeper rooted for Angie!
Andy Del Potro