I was saying last week how I hoped that Frances Tiafoe would kick-on and it has happened even quicker than could be expected. The 20-year-old had an adventurous week which culminated in his first main tour title. The American’s week in Delray started off with a 3 set win over Matty Ebden before taking out his idol Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round. The second seed has been having personal problems, having split with his girlfriend. Once again I feel for Delpo, we have all been there lad and I feel your pain. Next on Tiafoe’s agenda was ousting his good pal Hyeon Chung from a set down and then another of last years NextGen rivals, Denis Shapovalov in the semis. It set up a final with Peter Gojowczyk. There had been an air of focus from Tiafoe last week and he also served well. An injured German went down 6/1 6/4 in the final. There can’t be too many arguments overall though, a deserved winner. Especially when you consider who Tiafoe beat, it is worth keeping an eye on this lad for sure. Earlier on, top seed Jack Sock lost to Reilly Opelka, who went on to make the quarter’s, losing to Gojowczyk. John Isner also fell to the German in three tie-breakers in the second round and Sam Querrey lost his opener to Taylor Harry-Fritz. Kyrgios and Anderson both pulled out before the start of the event.
Quote of the week goes to Shapovalov who said: “Del Po is always a pain in the ass.” This was of course tongue in cheek and banter in relation to when Delpo was still in the draw.
We all know I love Diego Schwartzman and he romped home in Rio. The plucky little Argentine went all week without dropping a set, beating Casper Ruud, Federico Delbonis, Gael Monfils, Nicolas Jarry and Fernando Verdasco in the final. Diego was his usual consistent self off the ground and winning here should take a bit of pressure off for a while, he will have some big points to defend later in the season. I have said it time and time again but it really is fantastic to see the 5’7″ Argentine succeed. Top seed Marin Cilic lost his second round to Monfils and Second seed Dominic Thiem couldn’t back up last weeks performance as he lost 6/4 6/0 to Verdasco, in the quarters. Nicolas Jarry impressed, making the semis. The Chilean ousted Albert Ramos-Vinolas and Pablo Cuevas (4th & 7th seeds) on the way.
Lucas Pouille couldn’t quite back up his victory in Montpellier, coming up just short in the final of Marseille, losing to Karen Khachanov (these two are also close pals). It is a second title for the Russian who served bombs all week. He dismantled both Benneteau and more prominently Tomas Berdych in the semi’s 6/3 6/2. Stan Wawrinka pulled out of his opener when a set down to Ilya Ivashka with pain in his left knee. Top seed David Goffin pulled out pre-event as he needed to rest his eye injury up for another week.
Elina Svitolina defended her title in Dubai, she beat Daria Kasatkina 6/4 6/0 in the final. The Russian looked tired and I am not surprised after the gruelling week she had. She saved match points against both Jo Konta in the second round and Garbine Muguruza in the semi-finals, showing the variety in her game in doing so. Svitolina looked comfortable for most of the week, with the exception of a blip against Qiang Wang where she dropped the second set. I thought she would go against Angie Kerber in their semi-final but she breezed past an error-strewn German 6/3 6/3. Karolina Pliskova is definitely struggling for form at the moment, having struggled against Suarez Navarro, she was comprehensively beaten by Kerber in the quarters.
Alison Van Uytvanck won her second tour title with a victory over in Budapest. I liked Mihaela Buzarnescu chances here but the Belgian hammered her out of sight 6/1 6/0. I had a feeling she might win it then ( a good after time from me). Second seed Shuai Zhang was taken out in the quarter’s and AVU beat Dominika Cibulkova in the final. Cibulkova had looked comfortable all week but lost the decider 7/5, Van Uytvanck is an underrated operator though with her unorthodox style. Mona Barthel made the semis which included a victory over defending champion and crowd favourite Timea Babos.
Andy Del Potro