Musings from La Caja Magica @MutuaMadridOpen Tuesday
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
I was back at La Caja Magica for another eventful day at the Mutua Madrid open.
Petra Kvitova vs Coco Vandeweghe
Tuesday’s proceedings on Manolo Santana began with a big hitting WTA affair between world number four Petra Kvitova and Coco Vandeweghe.
The intentions of both players were clear from the get go; hit harder than my opponent and overpower her. That precisely what happened, as big shot after big shot came off the racket of both players. The heavy hitting led to some fantastic shot-making and some wild errors, but perhaps shot of the set came by the way of finesse from the American. On the defence, Vandeweghe pulled off a drop shot winner that certainly caught Kvitova by surprise. As the set went on, Kvitova began to make in-roads on the big serve of The American. The break finally came at 5-4, after a Vandeweghe back-hand went long.
Kvitova looked in control heading into the second, but there is a reason why she is known as Three-Setova. Soon the match turned in Vandeweghe’s favour. Two breaks of serve were enough for the American as she stormed to a second set victory.
With the score now level, the match was nicely poised heading into the third. With their style of play, peaks and blips were to be expected, so it was really down to who can peak at the right time. Using her experience in these occasions, it was Kvitova who made the move, breaking at 4-3 and serving the match out to complete a three set victory.
Kvitova def. Vandeweghe 6-4,2-6,6-3.
Gael Monfils vs Viktor Troicki
Gael Monfils is always a dark horse candidate for a deep run in these events, and he kicked off his tournament against a re-surging Viktor Troicki. The Serbian had served a suspension for doping last year, and was looking to rebuild his ranking to where it once was. The enigmatic Monfils always provides entertainment, so this was certainly one of the match-up’s to see.
Troicki came out of the blocks firing with some huge serves, but soon Monfils established his authority on the match. The Frenchman’s defence proved too tough to hit through for the Serb, who was left frustrated by the speed of his opponent. Monfils then brought the power to earn a second break of serve, with some huge winners off both wings. The set was sealed in under half an hour, 6-2 in favour of La Monf.
Clearly frustrated by his opponent, Troicki was slipping further, and it wasn’t long before Monfils went ahead in the second set. The early break in the second set signalled the end for Troicki, and left Monfils in cruise control. His emphatic victory was rounded off in style, as the Frenchman bageled his opponent.
Monfils def. Troicki 6-2,6-0
Jo Wilfried Tsonga vs Lukas Rosol
After an injury to Donald Young forced his match against Grigor Dimitrov to be cut short, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Lukas Rosol took to court earlier than expected.
As you would expect between two big servers and heavy hitters the points were mainly kept short and sweet. Neither player could make any real impression on the other’s serve until late in the first set. Tsonga’s return was getting better and it allowed him to break for the first set 7-5. The Frenchman’s momentum continued into the second set, where he broke early to give himself a commanding lead. From there Tsonga remained unschathed as he held on to his break advantage and secured victory.
Tsonga def. Rosol 7-5,6-3
Before the night session began, there were also victories for Maria Sharapova, Fernando Verdasco, and Jack Sock on Manolo Santana. Sharapova made easy work of Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1,6-2, whilst Verdasco came from a set down to topple compatriot Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. The Spanish fortune soon when Jack Sock defeated Pablo Andujar in straight sets, 6-4,7-5. The American had to hold off a comeback from the Spaniard in the final set, before completing his victory. Sock led 5-2, and had three match points before finally sealing it.
On Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, play opened up with Victoria Azarenka battling Alija Tomljanovic for a second round match against Serena Williams. Despite the potential threat from Tomljanovic, Azarenka didn’t have too much trouble dispatching the Croatian 6-3,6-3. A injury hampered Donald Young didn’t pose a threat to Grigor Dimitrov. The American pulled out midway through the second set with a back injury that had been troubling him the whole match. Dimitrov advances, 6-4, 3-0 ret. There were also straight sets wins for Milos Raonic, Roberto Bautista Agut and Richard Gasquet.
The stadium 3 crowd were treated to a triple threat of WTA action. Firstly, Barbora Strycova routinely defeated Varara Lepchenko in straight sets 6-4, 6-2. After Monfils demolished Troicki, an in form Karolina Pliskova saw her momentum haulted by Caroline Garcia. The Frenchwoman was able to break the big serve of Pliskova four times en route to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory.
Ana Ivanovic claimed her biggest win of the season with a straight sets victory over Elina Svitolina. The world number 7 announced post match that she had split with her coach Dejan Petrovic less than a year since their partnership began.
“On the weekend we decided to stop.” Said the 27 year old. “We had little bit different views on my game. I felt that was what made the big difference today, as I made some adjustments to my game and I felt today on court it was my real game.”
“It’s always tough, but sometimes you have to make the tough decisions.” Ivanovic added.
The Serb has no immediate plans to hire a coach, and will continue working with her sparring partner for the meantime.
“I still got my sparring partner with me. For this to happen during a tournament is not ideal, but I am going to stick with my sparring partner for the moment and try to work with the experience I have.”
To round off the singles on Stadium three, Phillip Kohlschreiber dispatched qualifier Alejandro Falla in straight sets 6-1, 6-4.
In other action from around the courts, Martin Klizan withdrew from his match against Marcel Granollers with a wrist injury after being down 5-2 in the opening set. There were wins for Leo Mayer, Nick Kyrgios, Albert Ramos, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova too.
Stan Wawrinka vs Joao Sousa
The final offering of the day came on Manolo Santana as Stan Wawrinka looked to replicate his 2013 form here against Lucky Loser Joao Sousa. Both players weren’t in the best of form heading in, but to Sousa it didn’t matter.
The Portuguese broke immediately, with errors spaying off the racket of Wawrinka. The set stayed with serve until it came to crunch time for Sousa. Unfortunately for the world number 52, he couldn’t hold his nerve at the crucial moment, and his chance to seal the set went by. The set ended with a dominating tiebreak from Wawrinka. The Swiss star’s form was picking up at this point, much to the frustration of Sousa.
At the start of the second set, both players complained to the chair umpire about the lighting, but in the end it would be lights out of Joao Sousa. Wawrinka failed to break earlier in the set, but at 5-5 he didn’t make the same mistake. Stan soon found himself with two match points, only he failed to convert them. After saving break point, the world number nine sealed the victory on the third attempt. You know what they say… Third time’s a charm.
Wawrinka def. Sousa 7-6,7-5.
So that wraps up another day in Madrid. The ATP’s big guns kick off their tournament’s tomorrow, with Federer, Nadal, Murray and Nishikori taking to court.