Day 4, RG 2017 – Steve Johnson deserves all the plaudits!

Kiki Mladenovic showed no signs of discomfort in dispatching Sara Errani, she said after though that the back is still not 100% and she feels limited on serve and the backhand. She was much improved from the Jennifer Brady showing though. Garbi Muguruza got away with one today against Anett Kontaveit. She came from a set and 1-3 down to win in what was a heavyweight contest, experience winning the battle in the end. Svetlana Kuznetsova made hard work of Oceane Dodin, she described herself as “too passive”. Dodin, spurred on by the crowd let rip and made a real game of it! For Kuzzy it is all about getting through the first week and she is halfway there. Jelena Ostapenko comfortably beat Monica Puig and Caroline Wozniacki double bagelled Francoise Abanda. Elise Mertens has set up a third round match with Venus after she beat Richel Hogenkamp (she beat Heather Watson in the final round of qualies). This is a trickier one for Venus than it looks on paper. The Belgian has been operating at a fairly decent level this season, winning Hobart and runner-up to Svitolina in Istanbul. Timea Bacsinszky is creeping through the draw and she will expect to go at least another few rounds in this form, she hammered Madison Brengle today. A semi-finalist two years ago here remember! She faces qualifier Ons Jabeur next after the Tunisian caused the biggest upset of the day in the Women’s event, beating Dominika Cibulkova. She just can’t gather any momentum at the mo, Bulky. She clearly hasn’t been right since the wrist injury she picked up during Fed Cup practice. CiCi Bellis knocked out Kiki Bertens, another good win for the young American. Interestingly Bertens suggested that expectation and listening to others had got to her. Winning last week probably hasn’t helped on many levels, as is usually the case. Petra Kvitova’s run came to an end in two tie-break sets against Beth Mattek-Sands. There have been a lot of positives to come from these two matches for Petra and it sounds like this was a decent standard today. Definitely good preparation for the grass and she said herself she was surprised with her level despite the defeat.

Rafa looked majestic against Robin Haase, though Haase notched a couple more games than Benoit Paire mustered, Nadal played better today. My confidence in Rafa here could start to border on the cocky side at this rate! Nole gave Joao Sousa another going over, this always looks the most painful of matchups for the Portuguese, you could see that back at the US Open in 2013. He simply has nothing to hurt Djokovic and so it proved again. Djokovic faces one of ‘My Boys’, Diego Schwartzman in the last 32. Renzo Olivo came back out and saw off Tsonga immediately. This was a good performance from Renzo, but Boi, Jo will know this was a poor performance, yielding 73 unforced errors. I still don’t understand why he went all out in Lyon last week. He has had other priorities of
late since the birth of his first child though, I’m sure of that and I wouldn’t dispute it! There were other wins today for Thiem, Goffin and Milos Raonic, the latter two both dropping sets today against Stakhovsky and Dutra Silva. Lucas Pouille swept aside Thomaz Bellucci after the Brazilian failed again to capitalise on his early advantage. Pouille now faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas next, in a highly competitive heat, should be a good match this one. Slightly biased in my view but think Pouille will take it! Another match I’m well up for in the third round is Carreno-Busta against Dimitrov, both of whom are looking to step up. I also think PCB might cause a small upset here and win this. I did get Bedene right today, Vesely ended his hopes in four. As well as he has played of late I think he has peaked for the season. He does seem pretty motivated to get into the Davis Cup squad but I’m just not sure he is better than what we have.

The day has to go out to Steve Johnson though, what a superb effort. Johnson beat Borna Coric and broke down in tears, dedicating the win to his father, whom he lost recently. He said “I just miss my dad. I wish he was following along. I know he is, from upstairs,”. It genuinely makes you think and gives you a perspective, you would like to think it has for Coric (who threw an absolute wobbly after losing). As Johnson also said and it’s a reminder to us all, that it’s not always about tennis. Good on ya pal, great effort.

Andy Del Potro

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