Since I wasn’t around last week, I’m going to recap both Rome and Madrid, starting with Rome.
Novak Djokovic captured his third career title and his first since 2011 with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 classic comeback victory against big rival Rafael Nadal. Nadal started well and seemed close to salvaging his spring clay court season and winning his second straight masters title, but Novak responded under pressure, while playing with a heavy heart due to the terrible flooding in Serbia and the Balkans region affecting his countrymen.
Djokovic won his third masters title of the season which is also his third title of the season. It wasn’t an easy route to the final, as he dropped a set in all but one of his matches this week. He beat Radek Stepanek in straight sets but needed 3 against Philipp Kohlschreiber, David Ferrer, and Milos Raonic, who continued his strong season by making a Masters semi on clay. The Canadian number one is now a reliable top 10 player.
Nadal also had trouble this week early, needing 3 sets against Gilles SImon, Mikhail Youzhny, and Andy Murray, who all challenged him and were better for parts of their matches before they ran out of gas and Nadal pushed through. Rafa then casually dispatched Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2 in the semifinals in what as a disappointing match for the Bulgarian, who I thought would challenge Rafa.
Daniel Nestor/Nenad Zimonjic defeated Robin Haase/Feliciano Lopez to win the doubles title, their second straight in consecutive weeks.
Rafael Nadal did return to some form in Madrid the week prior, as he defeated Kei Nishikori, who was contesting his first masters title ever, via injury retirement 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 ret. It was the second straight Madrid title for Rafa, though many people think he was lucky and that without Nishikori getting injured he would have been toppled. The first set was all Kei but the second was closer, so it’s hard to say. Still, tennis is often a game of luck and he will be pleased to have atl least one title this clay court season.
Nadal easily dispatched Juan Monaco, Jarkko Nieminen, Tomas Berdych and first time Masters semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut, who like Raonic has had a stellar season.
His final opponent, Nishikori, beat Ivan Dodig, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, Milos Raonic and Feliciano Lopez all without dropping a set. After that, he knocked out his fellow ‘Human Wall’, David Ferrer, in a 3 set semifinal match. It’s also been a great season for Nishikori and he has had impressive results with coach Michael Chang.
Nestor/Zimonjic beat the Bryans for the doubles title.