Having sung Rafa’s praises relentlessly, there was always going to be a defeat chucked in. Dominic Thiem obliged in Madrid beating an unusually out of sorts Nadal 7/5 6/3.
Though on home soil, this is always Nadal’s most likely best of three loss on clay during the year. The quicker conditions assure that.
He is still a top priced 1/2 to win over five sets in Paris. A different proposition totally. Just a minor spanner in the Nadal works and one he will no doubt want to rectify imminently. I’m not overly concerned his domination is going to diminish overnight. Props to Thiem though, he went all out attack and got his rewards.
Thiem made the final, following up his last 8 victory over Nadal by beating Big Kev Anderson. The South African getting the last 8 hoodoo off his back in a masters series event by beating Lajovic. Incredible to think that is his first semi at a masters series.
Thiem ran into Sascha Zverev in the finale. The second seed has certainly returned to the level we have come to expect, having dipped momentarily. Understandably so. I believe this is his third masters series title already. More impressively he backed up from the previous week in Munich to win this.
Sascha flew through the draw, including gaining revenge for his Miami loss to John Isner, in the last 8 this time. The big serve and forehand saw him through against Shapovalov 4 and 1 in the semis.
He went all week without getting broke. A disaster for Thiem in the final who lost his serve at the start of both sets. That was all she wrote.
Kyle Edmund had another good week, taking out Djokovic most notably and then backing up against David Goffin in the last 16. Roaring that forehand all over the gaff in the process. Edmund served the match out to love against Djoko, showing once again that Nole has lost his mojo and fear factor. This could change quickly for the Serb but it hasn’t yet. Edmund lost in the quarters to Shapovalov who played well on the dirt in Spain.
Juan Martin Del Potro played his first event since losing to Isner in Miami, losing out to Dusan Lajovic in the third round.
Petra Kvitova won her third title in Madrid and her fourth title of the season. Very much like Zverev, she backed up from the previous week’s title in Prague. That was always going to be one of the major potential stumbling blocks here. Could she? Or couldn’t she?
She only dropped the two sets, one against the back inform Anett Kontaveit (who had beaten Venus) and one in a very high standard of final against Kiki Bertens. These courts in particular really suit her all-out aggressive style. There are few that will beat her at her own game when she is in this form, as Pliskova found out in the semis. Kasatkina went for the passive approach in the quarters against her and got beat 4 and 0.
Bertens run to the final now sees her around 11th in the betting for the French Open, with some quotes as short as 13/1 and 14/1. WOW! This shows just how open the event is perceived to be. She battled past Maria Sharapova, showing a lot of heart in the quarters, having already comfortably beaten Sevastova and second-seeded Caro Wozniacki. In the semi’s she hammered Caroline Garcia 6/2 6/2. Her power and movement were exceptional in Spain.
Top seed Simona Halep lost to Pliskova in the last 8. The Romanian had won the last two events here. This loss was once again at the hands of someone who relentlessly attacked her and put her under pressure.
Garbine Muguruza lost to Daria Kasatkina, continuing her very poor form on home soil in Madrid. It looks like the expectation weighs on here as you would expect her record to be a lot better than it is. She added two wins to her grand tally of three going into the tournament.
Bernarda Pera beat Jo Konta for the second time in three meetings this season, this time in the second round. The American proving to be a bit of a thorn in her side.
Andy Del Potro