Gael Monfils had looked in decent form in Sofia the previous week. There he took out Stefanos Tsitsipas in a high-quality encounter, before losing to Daniil Medvedev in the semis. In Rotterdam, the Frenchman went all the way beating Goffin, Seppi, Dzumhur, Medvedev (reversing last weeks loss) and Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final. The courts were playing slower than usual in Rotterdam and that is to Gael’s liking. Stan had been in top form all week too, ousting Raonic and top seed Kei Nishikori on his way to the final. It is very, very encouraging for him as there is a gap in the game right now and he also knows he can beat Rafa and Nole. There were early losses again for Khachanov (to Griekspoor) and Tsitsipas (to Dzumhur) but it is hardly crisis talks just yet. They are just getting used to being marked men in the draw.
Richard Krajicek looks like he is loving it here. Buzzing!
Dominic Thiem’s unbeaten run in Buenos Aires came to an end. Having won the event on his previous two trips he came unstuck against Diego Schwartzman in their semi-final. Despite making the final, ‘El Peque’ actually hadn’t been at his best all week though and Marco Cecchinato took advantage too totally outplay the Argentine 6/1 6/2 in the final. The Italian wasn’t happy with how he had played in his first two rounds against Garin and Carballes Baena, but he got them both done in straights as he did for the remainder of the week. A semi-final win over a tired Guido Pella was hardly surprising with Pella making the final the previous week and having some long matches here. There was no doubt that Cecchinato upped his game from the last four having said that. The Italian is now 3 from 3 in ATP Finals. Impressive.
Reilly Opelka claimed his first ATP Tour title, this in NYC. The American was the only winner in my weekly perms, sadly a 16/1 winner on its own, when you have bet doubles and upwards, ain’t much cop! Opelka had shown signs of being in good form by taking out John Isner in Melbourne and he repeated that feat in the semis in New York. Opelka went the distance in all his matches bar Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. He defeated qualifier Brayden Schnur in the final, the Canadian scrapping his way through to his first tour final. Wins over Johnson and Querrey were his highlights, before losing a final set breaker to the 6 ft 11 Opelka. Second seed, Frances Tiafoe, might just have had valentines day on his mind, as he lost first up to Jason Jung.
Last, but certainly by no means least Elise Mertens won WTA Doha. I have sung her praises and it might be a surprise to some, how I didn’t maybe have her in my bets, but I straight up didn’t fancy her for this. Great wins over Siniakova, Kristyna Pliskova, Kiki Bertens and Angie Kerber put her in the final. She came from a set and a break down to beat Simona Halep their, to complete an unlikely victory and certainly the biggest of her career so far. The draw did open up after the withdrawal of second seed Karolina Pliskova (her sister replaced her), but from the quarter-finals, Mertens had to be ‘on it’ to beat that calibre of player, so fair play. Ash Barty and Caroline Wozniacki were also pullouts in the top half. Halep took advantage in that section, though she should have lost to Svitolina in the semis, the Ukranian not pushing home her advantage when she was on top.
Andy Del Potro