2016 Mutua Madrid Open Day 4 Recap
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Day four of the Mutua Madrid Open saw two of the top seeds start their tournaments and Juan Martin Del Potro score the biggest win since his return this year.
Del Potro defeats Thiem
It was arguably the pick of the round one matches as Del Potro defeated the in form Dominic Thiem in straight sets 7-6(5), 6-3. The Argentine missed numerous break points in the opening set but managed to squeeze out the tiebreak 7-5. Del Potro carried the momentum into the second set where he earned an early break. Thiem fought valiantly to try save the match in the final game, but Del Potro hung on to claim his biggest win since his return to the tour this year.
The former US Open Champion had wrist surgery and has been struggling to hit topspin backhands since his return due to the pain. However in this match he noticeably hit more than usual, something he commented on post match.
“I think I improved a lot since my last match in Munich.” Said Del Potro.
“Today I hit it really well. I’m growing up with my backhand. I’m getting confidence with my backhand, too.”
“I need more matches, more progress with these guys to improve that shot. I’m still calm. I can keep patient. I want to be hitting backhands in a good way. Maybe in the second part of the year would be nice for me.”
With Roger Federer’s withdrawal, the draw has potentially opened up for 27 year old who faces Jack Sock in the next. If he is able to get past the American, either Marcel Granollers or Joao Sousa will await him.
Del Potro is only choosing to think about the present though, and enjoying a big victory.
“It’s quite difficult because I was fighting one of the best opponents that I can have.” He added.
“I knew how well I was playing and my conditions these days, and I am missing a lot of what I need be to at the highest level, the level I want to be, because I’ve been through very difficult things in the past years.
“First of all, being in a competition like this, for me, it’s a lot of merit. If I’m able to win matches, even better. Even more emotional. That’s why sometimes it’s difficult to handle the emotions.
“But I think that today I have a lot of joy. I’m very happy. It’s because some great things are happening to me right now. I wasn’t crying because I had to leave or because my wrist were hurting or anything. I was just very happy about it.”
Nadal and others make it through
A packed crowd in Manolo Santana witnessed the successful return of Rafael Nadal to the Caja Magica as he was able to defeat Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3, 6-3.
An early break set the tone for Nadal who went through the match without dropping serve. One break was enough for the first set, then another two sealed the second for a rather comfortable straight sets victory.
Nadal highlighted his serve as an important factor in his win: “I served well in Monte-Carlo and in Barcelona. Here, as I said before, the altitude, perhaps it helps you a little bit so that your serve is a little bit more effective.
“The serve is — depending on which tournament it’s not so decisive, but in this tournament it is. Whoever serves well here is going to do well. I think I have been solid with my serve. I obtained a lot of results. I have to try to keep the percentage up. During the previous training sessions I also served well. This is important to have options to do good. I’m happy and delighted and hope I’ll be able to continue.”
Andy Murray was pushed by Radek Stepanek but the Brit found a way to come through in three sets 7-6,3-6, 6-1. The defending champion acknowledged the difficulty of the victory post match.
“Well, he played very well. I mean, it was not easy. He obviously started the match a little bit better than me. I was playing a little bit too flat, so I think he obviously likes it when it’s like that, when the ball is bouncing a bit lower.
“He was hitting the ball big up the lines. He hit a lot of lines the first set and a half to get himself in a good position.
“In the second set, the game where he broke me, I hit good second serves and he hit like four or five clean return winners in that game. Nothing you could do there. He was just going big and it was going in.
“Third set I started to play with a little bit more height. I was playing a little bit more spin, which made it harder for him. When I was getting the ball up high he started making a few more mistakes.
“Yeah, tough, tough match.”
Nick Kyrgios set up a mouth-watering clash with Stan Wawrinka by defeating Gaudio Pella 7-6, 6-4. Fabio Fognini was also in good form when he dispatched Bernard Tomic 6-2, 6-4.
It was a good day for the Americans as there were victories for Jack Sock and Denis Kudla. Both came from a set down to beat Benoit Paire and Ivo Karlovic respectively.
There were also victories in the men’s for Milos Raonic, Albert Ramos, Gael Monfils, Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno-Busta, Borna Coric and Pablo Cuevas.
Simona Halep began proceedings with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Karin Knapp on Manolo Santana. She was followed on court by Carla Suarez Navarro who defeated Sabine Lisicki 6-3, 6-2 despite not feeling well.
“I think I have a cold.” Said the eighth seed.
“But it’s true that when you go out there under the sun you can have a little bit of a headache when you have a cold. Also because all of the drugs that I had before going out there my stomach was hurting a little bit.”
When asked about whether she considered withdrawing, Suarez Navarro replied: “No, no. Here in Madrid I didn’t think about it. But it’s true that perhaps if I had been in another tournament I would’ve quit. I would’ve thought about it. Of course we are in a mandatory tournament, a very important tournament here at home. I would’ve thought about it for sure. At least say, Hey — ask me team, I don’t feel very well. What do you think, guys?
“Being here in Madrid I have never thought about that. It hasn’t come in my mind.”
There was an exit of another seed, only this time it was by default. Lucie Safarova pulled out of her match against Sam Stosur, as did Camila Giorgi. Timea Bacsinszky fought to win a tough three setter with Ekaterina Makarova. Dominika Cibulkova backed up her first round upset over Agnieszka Radwanska by coming from behind to defeat Caroline Garcia 0-6, 6-3, 6-4. Garcia was overwhelmed after suffering the defeat.