Recap: @MutuaMadridOpen Day Five
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Novak Djokovic secured a straight sets win on a day that saw more seeded players drop out on both sides of the tournament.
Djokovic wins; Wawrinka bows out
It has been a topsy-turvy start to the Mutua Madrid Open but Djokovic managed to avoid an upset by defeating Borna Coric 6-2, 6-4. The Serb won the first set comfortably, but the young Croatian raised his level in the second to make it more competitive. Djokovic held serve all the way to 5-4 despite facing break points and then applied the pressure to break serve and take the match in straight sets.
Djokovic said post match: “Well, second match on the clay court season for me. First one didn’t go so well for me in Monte-Carlo. I had some time to recuperate I think emotionally and mentally. I needed that more than physically because it has been a very successful but very demanding start of the season, first four months. I played a lot of matches.
“So I thought it happened for a reason for me to have a little bit more time off. I came in earlier as I said, Friday. Had plenty of good practice sessions with the best players. I thought that I performed very solid in opening round. Few things could have been better.
“But, again, overall was a satisfying performance against a young player that I never played against, against somebody that was in form. I watched his match against Almagro who win a tournament last week. He beat him comfortably in two sets. That deserves respect. I knew that he likes to play in these kind of conditions.
“He’s going to come out on the court not really having much to lose. But we know each other well. We practice many times. I do see myself in him a little bit. We play similar styles of the game. He’s a great fighter. For his age, quite mature and mentally tough.
“You know, try to help him out whenever I can and mentor him a little bit with some advices. We have a very nice relationship. Today was the first official match we played against each other, so I was happy with my performance. It was a fun match to be part of.”
There was no such luck for Stan Wawrinka as he was dumped out in straight sets by Nick Kyrgios. Despite the Aussie being unable to muster a single break point, Kyrgios raised his level in the tiebreak’s to take the match 7-6, 7-6. It was a high quality match that was largely serve dominated but Kyrgios once again knocked out a Swiss in Madrid. This follows his win over Roger Federer last year.
Kei Nishikori was just a few points away from also exiting the competition, but he managed to come back in the third set despite Fabio Fognini serving for the match. The Japanese star won the first set 6-2, but the Italian raised his level in the second and third sets. However he could not finish the job and Nishikori won the final three games to escape from the jaws of defeat.
“After first set I think he start playing better than me, for sure.” Nishikori said post match.
“And also third set I think he deserve to win. I think he played more aggressive and he was hitting better serves and returning well.
“I don’t know what’s happened to him last couple games, but a little bit some luck and — I mean, I thought played pretty good tennis first set, so I tried to keep it up, you know, my confidence, and try to play better next match.”
Juan Martin Del Potro is out after a straight sets defeat to Jack Sock. The American broke early and held serve to seal the set 6-4. The second set was tighter but Sock managed to take the tiebreak to seal a 6-4, 7-6 victory.
David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych also made it through. The Czech won 6-3, 6-3 against Denis Istomin whilst the Spaniard needed three sets to knock off Denis Kudla 6-4, 4-6, 6-4. Joao Sousa, Roberto Bautista Agut, Gilles Simon, Pablo Cuevas and Sam Querrey were also successful.
Kvitova out; Azarenka withdraws
In an already wild tournament on the womens side, another three seeds were knocked out- albeit in completely different circumstances.
Victoria Azarenka did not even step on court to face Louisa Chirico. The Belarusian called a press conference to announce her withdrawal from the tournament with a back injury.
“Unfortunately in my first match I think I tweaked my back a little bit. It was really cold, and, I don’t know, I think it’s much easier to get a little bit hurt when it’s that cold.
“And the second match obviously I was in a lot of discomfort. Having a day off I thought it was going to get better. Today before my tennis warm-up it did feel better, but once I started hitting it came back.
“I don’t feel that I’m able to compete today. Just trying to make smart decision for a big picture.”
Kvitova failed to defend her title as she lost in straight sets to Daria Gavrilova. The Aussie came through 6-3, 6-4 to upset Kvitova for the second time this year. Hope’s for a Spanish winner were dashed as Sam Stosur defeated an ill Carla Suarez Navarro 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Simona Halep is now the only remaining seed in the draw. The Romanian managed to avoid the upset bug by defeating Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-3, thus avenging her loss in Miami.
“Yeah, it was very good revenge today. It was a nice match, and I’m happy that I could win in two sets.” Halep said on her win.
It has been quite the week for Romanian tennis. Irina Begu awaits Halep in the quarter finals after a three set battle with Christina McHale. Begu lost the opening set tiebreak but came back to win the following sets 6-4, 6-4. Sorana Cirstea also continued her good form with a straight sets win over Laura Siegemund. Patricia Tig made it 4/4 for Romanians today with a straight sets win over Madison Keys.