Business End of the Tournament Underway @MutuaMadridOpen
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
MADRID, May 8, 2015–Thursday at the Mutua Madrid open featured the men’s third round and the women’s quarter finals featuring the likes of Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and others.
Maria Sharapova vs Caroline Wozniacki
Maria Sharapova opened proceedings on Wednesday, beating Caroline Garcia in a tough three set battle. Yesterday, the world number three kicked the day off again against Caroline. Only this time it was Wozniacki, not Garcia.
Determined to improve on her performance, Sharapova came firing out of the block. Her consistent power and pressure was too much for Wozniacki to handle in the early proceedings, and the Dane lost serve early. Sharapova was relentless, continuing to hit winners and force errors off the racket of her opponent, and at 4-1 she secured a second break. The Russian then served out the set without much difficulty.
The second set started in the same vein, with Sharapova breaking again. This seemed to spring Wozniacki to life, as the world number five broke straight back, and then again at 4-3. The 24 year old upped her aggression and soon found herself level.
The third set started similar to how the second set ended, with Wozniacki on top. She soon found herself in front for the first time, but Sharapova soon whipped out that lead with a break to love. It was the momentum shift Sharapova needed. The Russian proceeded to break again at 4-3, and give herself the opportunity to serve it out. And so she did with an unreturnable serve.
Sharapova was taken the distance yet again, but like always her grit and determination got her through in the end.
Post-match, Wozniacki had some choice words about three let decision in the first set that weren’t given.
“There was three clear net calls that were not called.” The world number five said post match.
“We both stopped, and I’m like ‘Are you kidding me, you could not hear that, are you serious!’ It wasn’t like maybe or maybe not, it was clear. I think definitely there should be let machines on all courts, or they should not allow lets.”
Sharapova had little to say on the issue, citing it to Wozniacki’s behaviour during matches.
“Honestly, I think maybe one of them might have been a net cord. I don’t know about the two or three she was referring to, but I have seen this with Caroline a few times. In Singapore it was about the lighting, and there was something at the US Open as well. I think she enjoys playing the umpire and the crowd a little bit.”
Sharapova def. Wozniacki 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
Following that match on Manolo Santana was home crowd favourite Carla Suarez Navarro looking to keep Spanish hopes alive against World number one Serena Williams. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, her record of not winning more than five games in a match against Serena continued, as the American stormed to a 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Meanwhile on stadium three, Tomas Berdych dispatched of Jo Wilfried Tsonga in a heavy hitting battle. Tsonga had break points at 5-5 in the first set that he failed to convert, and was ultimately punished by Berdych, who went on to break serve at 6-5. Tsonga couldn’t muster a fight back and the second, and fell rather tamely to the Czech, 7-5, 6-2. Berdych’s remarkable consistency continues.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Stan Wawrinka
One of the most anticipated matches of the day took place on Sanchez Vicario, as Stan Wawrinka looked to avenge his Monte Carlo loss to Grigor Dimitrov.
The match was expectedly close in the opening set, with the players exchanging breaks in the middle, and holding serve comfortably the rest of the time. It went the distance, and it was the Bulgarian that pounced. Dimitrov takes the tiebreak 7-5, and the lead in the process.
The second set saw Wawrinka up his game. He looked a lot better than in Monte Carlo where he lost rather embarrassingly 6-1, 6-2. The Swiss got his reward in the second game of the set, breaking Dimitrov for the lead. Wawrinka held on to take the set comfortably, without facing any problem on his own serve.
Wawrinka looked in control heading into the third set and at 2-1, and 3-2 he had his chances to take the lead in the match. However the chances were squandered, allowing Dimitrov to keep ahead during the set. The Bulgarian patiently waiting for his opportunity, which came at 4-3 in the decider. Stan fought off two break points with two brilliant inside out forehands up the line, but third time proved to be a charm for Dimitrov. Now 5-3 up, all he had to do was serve the match out, and so he did successfully.
That was Dimitrov’s third straight victory over Wawrinka, he will now face the winner of Nadal vs Bolelli in the quarter finals.
Dimitrov def. Wawrinka 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
Back on Manolo Santana, Rafael Nadal continued his tournament with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Simone Bolelli. The Italian gave Rafa and the crowd a scare at the beginning of the match, but Nadal saved the break points and from there it was plain sailing. The defending champion only dropped four games en route to a 6-2, 6-2 victory.
Nick Kyrgios vs John Isner
Nick Kyrgios’ run has come to an end after a three set defeat to John Isner.
The Australian struggled to get a grip on the Isner serve, and couldn’t even muster a break point throughout the match. Isner was patient in waiting for his opportunities to pounce, and when it came at 4-3, he took it on a canter.
The second set was more of what many were expecting. Very few break opportunities, and tiebreaks were the pre-match predictions of most, and that’s exactly what we got. Much like the deciding tiebreaker last night, it went fairly long and Kyrgios came out on top 9-7.
Isner however was the only player who looked likely to break in the third set, and so he did at 5-4 to seal the match. A double fault by Kyrgios sealed it for the American. I didn’t expect to see that after his play on the big points against Federer.
Isner def. Kyrgios 6-3, 6-7, 6-4
Whilst Isner was defeating Kyrgios, we had another marathon on Sanchez Vicario. Svetlana Kuznetsova and Lucie Safarova went over three hours in another epic, but in the end the Russian outlasted the Czech to claim the victory. Safarova had served for the match in the final set, and even had two match points, but they were saved by Kuznetsova who eventually went on to win the deciding tiebreak.
Following on Sanchez Vicario was Petra Kvitova vs Irina Begu. The Czech needed only two sets to dispatch of the Romanian 7-5, 6-3.
Andy Murray’s match couldn’t have gone much easier. The Brit has carried his Munich form into Madrid, and that form was good enough to demolish Marcel Granollers 6-2, 6-0.
Kei Nishikori vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Kei Nishikori has final points to defend last year, and so far the Japanese star looks set to do just that. The fourth seed routinely defeated Roberto Bautista Agut on Manolo Santana 6-3, 6-3.
Nishikori used his speed and precise shots to move the Spaniard around and hit clear winners all over the court. The first break of serve came at 1-1, and then the Japanese sealed it with another break at 5-3.
Kei’s level dipped slightly at the start of the second set, but towards the back-end of the match it picked up again, and the world number five found the required level to break Bautista Agut again at 4-3. Serving the match out didn’t prove to be too easy for Kei, as the Japanese had to save two break points before closing it out.
Nishikori def. Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-3.
The last match of the day saw Milos Raonic defeat Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-3.
Today we will see the men’s quarter finals and the women’s semi-finals all on Manolo Santana. Here’s the order of play…
Maria Sharapova vs Svetlana Kuznetsova
Serena Williams vs Petra Kvitova
Rafael Nadal vs Grigor Dimitrov
John Isner vs Tomas Berdych
Milos Raonic vs Andy Murray
David Ferrer vs Kei Nishikori
Should be another great day of tennis. Here are some predictions…
Sharapova in 3 sets
Williams in 3 sets
Nadal in 2 sets
Berdych in 2 sets
Murray in 2 sets
Nishikori in 3 sets.