Federer loses grip in Halle as Petra retains in Edgbaston. Cilic improves claims for Wimbledon and first title for Maria.

Marin Cilic walked away with the Queens Club title in London for the second time in his career, the first being that infamous David Nalbandian kicking the line judge incident in 2012. He flew the flag for the top four seeds here. There were early losses for Dimitrov, Anderson and Goffin but top-seeded Cilic sliced his way through the draw. Gilles Muller gave him some early problems but his main test came in the final.

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Queens Club saw the return of Andy Murray and also in the list were Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka. All three were unseeded, as Dimitrov found out to his cost as Djokovic beat him 6/4 6/1 in the second round. This was much improved from Nole, who seems to have gotten over his post-match sulk at the French after the Cecchinato loss. He made the final in London and was on the verge of taking it until he lost six straight points in the second set breaker. Cilic served well all week though and gets a healthy number of balls back on the surface in return games. Good combo. Once Nole let him back in, the Croat was in the zone. It was great to see Muzza back in action too. He drew Kyrgios in the opening round and gave more than a decent account of himself, taking the first set 6/2. Most importantly his fitness looked fine so it was a huge positive despite losing in a final set breaker. Kyrgios’ form stood up after that as he made the semis beating Edmund and Felip Lopez, serving bombs. So the early signs are good for the Scot, we now await Murray’s decision on SW19.

 

 

 

The ‘Fed Express’ lost his title in Halle. Borna Coric showed his potential once again, ousting Federer in the final in Germany. The Serb had been class all week and he meant business from the word go. He caught Sascha Zverev cold in the opening round and served his way through to the final without dropping a set. He may have got slightly lucky against Roberto Bautista-Agut in the semis. The Spaniard had to retire with a hip injury early on, having led by an early break in their encounter. Bautista had also looked in good nick having beaten Karen Khachanov in a very high-quality quarter-final. Khachanov had already comfortably taken out Kei Nishikori in the second round 6/2 6/2 with lights out tennis.

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Federer had looked out of sorts pretty much all week. Paire held match points, Ebden served for the set and Kudla had taken him very close in the semis. Coric was operating at a much higher level though and kept up the intensity in his 7/6 3/6 6/2 victory. I read somewhere that Coric hadn’t won a match on grass since 2015 going into this. Will there be a problem with two weeks of tennis at Wimbledon for the 36-year-old Federer? He looks beatable at the moment, it is certainly not vintage Fed. Special mentions go out to Denis Kudla, who impressed with some big serving stats making the semis and also, Yuichi Sugita who showed Dominic Thiem’s weaknesses on the grass by taking him out 6/2 7/5. He just hasn’t looked comfortable in his movement as a whole on it yet. A lot of work needs to be done on this surface by ‘The Dominator’.

 

 

 

A strong field in Edgbaston, Birmingham saw Muguruza, Svitolina, Pliskova and Kvitova all entered from the top ten. It was Kvitova that defended her title in the Midlands. It actually wasn’t so much of a serving clinic from the Czech but her return game was on fire. There were only a few minor blips in beating Konta, Gavrilova, Goerges and Buzarenescu in straight sets. In the final, she came from a set down against Maggie Rybarikova.

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It is that time of year and Maggie is BACK! The variation and craft are here for us to enjoy on a surface that really suits her game. She hadn’t dropped a set on her way to the final and the ease of her victory over Karolina Pliskova shows she is where she needs to be. She also reversed an awful head to head in the semis against Barbora Strycova. Strycova had previously beaten up top-seeded Muguruza. Mihaela Buzarnescu has adjusted to life on grass pretty well after her French Open exploits. Like in France she comfortably dealt with Elina Svitolina on her way to the semis. Her ranking is already up to number 28 and going one way.

 

 

 

And Finally, Tatjana Maria won the first title of her career, aged 30. Her slice proved to be so effective in Mallorca. She somehow managed to survive her opening round against Anett Kontaveit where she was dead and buried. I had fancied Lucie Safarova for the tournament and she had looked good when beating Vika Azarenka in straights in the second round. Maria ‘s slice caused her absolute havoc though, as it did for Kontaveit and then Sevastova in the final.  Sevastova was defending champion in Spain but didn’t perform against the German. Caroline Garcia’s form at the event also took a slight knock. She was ousted by qualifier Sofia Kenin, who only just lost out to Maria in the last four. I saw Kenin at the U.S Open (against Vickery) and she looked to have potential that day. The second seed, Angie Kerber played poorly in losing to Alison Riske in her opener. Riske ended up losing to Sam Stosur, who surprisingly had a good week on the grass, making the last four.

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Andy Del Potro

 

 

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