Day 5 at Madrid Open: Nadal and Djokovic survive scares as Wawrinka Is Ousted
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
Wawrinka Sent Home By Paire
Day five ended with one of the biggest shocks of the tournament so far as third seed Stan Wawrinka was knocked out of the tournament by his good friend Benoit Paire.
It was an entertaining affair with two of the tour’s best shotmakers trading blow for blow. Wawrinka got out of the gates quickly with a break and had two opportunities to go a double break up in the first. However Paire started to grow into the match as the set wore on, and the Frenchman was able to break back at 4-2. Wawrinka earned break points in the following game, but Paire saved them before earning a break himself at 5-5. The world number 52 served out the set 7-5 to take the lead in the match.
His momentum was seemingly altered when rain disrupted play and forced the roof to be closed, and Stan took advantage with a break of serve. The Swiss failed to serve the set out though with a loose game, but immediately broke the following game to take the match to a decider.
Paire came alive in the third set, showing what he can do when his mind is in the right place. He hit winners from all areas of the court and dominated the final set with a double break. The Frenchman successfully served out the match to cap off one of his best performances for a long time.
“I am really happy because it is never easy to play against a good friend.” Paire said post match.
“I think it was more difficult for him today because we are very close and to play each other in the second round was not a good role for us, but I am happy because today I won and I played a good match.”
Not only has the week been positive for Paire on the tennis court, he also celebrated his 28th birthday on Tuesday. How did he celebrate?
“I had a good dinner with my girlfriend.” Paire said with a smile
“It was a good thing for me, I wanted just to have rest because I was playing the day after my birthday, so it was the week of my birthday we are going to say and I hope it will be a good week.” Paire moves on to face Pablo Cuevas in the third round after he ousted Nicolas Mahut earlier in the day
Nadal outlasts Fognini to set up Kyrgios clash
In a epic hour battle on Manolo Santana stadium, Rafael Nadal outlasted Fabio Fognini in three sets to book a third round match against Nick Kyrgios.
The Spaniard was largely outplayed by the Italian in the first set, but Fognini failed to take advantage of the many opportunities that came his way. The world number 29 was twice a break up in the set and even served for it at 5-4, but as can often be the case his brilliance was mixed in with madness and Nadal ended up taking the set in a tiebreaker 7-3.
The second set was what the first set should have really been for Fognini. This time when he got the break of serve he was able to hold throughout despite facing two break back points in the fifth game. The Italian served out the set to take us to a decider with the match on a knife’s edge.
The crowd were expectedly Pro-Nadal and cheered every point he won and nervously sat on their hands when he lost one. As the middle of the set approached Nadal pounced and earned a break of serve, but Fognini would not go away. As Nadal served for the match at 5-3, the Fognini that had won the second set started to reappear and the Italian earned two break back points. The First was saved with a thumping forehand, but the second went astray and we were back on serve. Nadal pushed again for the finish, earning match-point on the Fognini serve but the Italian saved it with another big forehand. But his brilliance was swiftly followed by mediocrity, and three errors later Rafa was victorious.
“I think that even though I played really badly, my attitude has been very positive.” Nadal said post match.
“My attitude and the will to win today’s match was there. My level of tennis was not so high today, but I managed to make it through the first round. It was uncomfortable. “Luckily I was able to win, and tomorrow I have another opportunity. Hopefully I’m ready to do much better than today.”
The world number four goes on to face another dangerous opponent in Kyrgios who famously beat Nadal at Wimbledon 2014. The Australian made quick work of Ryan Harrison, defeating him 6-3 6-3 in less than an hour.
It promises to be a blockbuster showdown on Thursday, one Kyrgios is looking forward to.
“I played Rafa last year in Rome, we had a battle there, 6-4 in the third and we obviously had that battle at Wimbledon too.” Kyrgios said post match. “I think every time we play each other, the surface plays a factor, but when playing playing each other and competing against each other we both want to win really bad. It is going to be an exciting match either way”
Djokovic survives Almagro
Novak Djokovic battled from a break down in the final set to overcome an inspired Nico Almagro to make the third round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
The Serb was 3-0 down in the decider but came back to win 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 in a dramatic two hour and … minute match on Manolo Santana stadium.
Djokovic looked wobbly in his opening service game, double faulting and hitting some tight errors. Almagro found himself a break up early, but Djokovic recovered to take the next six games as the Spaniard struggled to find the court.
The second set as a much different story. With nothing to lose and the home crowd behind him, Almagro began to play inspired tennis, hitting winners off both wings and serving big. He eventually got his reward in the final game of set where he broke to take it 6-4.
The form continued into the third where the world number 76 broke again, showing signs of the player that won 13 ATP World Tour titles. But just like many times in the past, nerves began to get the better of the Spaniard. He was broken back at 3-1, then once against a 5-5 as the pressure began to tell. Djokovic would successfully serve out the match to escape a tough opener against an inspired Almagro.
“Well, this was the fourth match on the clay court season for me this year, and all of them went 7-5 or 6-4 in the third set. Every match more or less that I’ve played was quite close, dramatic as well. I guess I’m supposed to be tested in every match on clay.” Djokovic said post match.
“From positive side, from that perspective, is good for psychological aspects and mental strength and getting confidence back. Obviously when you’re not winning too many matches, you have to build the confidence level. So to win the matches like this definitely helps confidence.
“I thought that for almost two sets I’ve played really well. Had 15-40 two times in the second set to finish off the match in straight sets. But, you know, I didn’t use my opportunities. He served well. Then he started to swing through the ball. Four games in a row he played really, really well.
“It’s tough to play Nico on any surface. Especially here where it’s altitude, it played quicker a little bit. He loves playing on clay. He was obviously motivated. He has a lot of strength in his shots, a lot of precision. He can, from both corners, hit equally well. If he doesn’t make many mistakes, he can really beat anyone. I could feel his very high quality, especially the end of the second set and the beginning of the third.
“But I hung in there and I knew that eventually I’m going to get my chances and going to get some looks on the second serves. When they’re presented, you know, I was ready to use them, which I did.” Djokovic faces Feliciano Lopez next after the Spaniard beat Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(3).
Kerber retires against Bouchard
Top seed Angelique Kerber is out of the Mutua Madrid Open after retiring 6-3, 5-0 down against Eugenie Bouchard.
The German did not hold serve once during the match which was largely dominated by the Canadian, then pulled up with a leg injury that ultimately forced her to retire from the match.
“I don’t know what’s exactly. I know it’s the left hamstring.” Said Kerber post match.
“I just felt it in the last game. I think it was not the last point, but the point, like, before. So yeah.
I think now I will just check it. I will check it maybe tonight or tomorrow. I will see. I hope it’s not too serious. But, yeah, I can feel it a little bit.”
Bouchard faces Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter finals. The Russian defeated Qiang Wang in straight sets earlier in the day.
Tsonga withdraws from Madrid. Ferrer advances to face Nishikori
Jo Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the Mutua Madrid Open due to a right shoulder injury.
The Frenchman was scheduled to face Spain’s David Ferrer second on Arantxa Sanchez court, but withdrew just hours before his round of 32 match.
“The problem is I stretch a muscle in my shoulders. I don’t want to take any risk.” Tsonga said in a press conference.
“It’s something I did, I think, last week on the practice. I had little bit of pain from the match of Kuznetsov.
“Yeah, like I said, I don’t want to take any risk anymore because there is other tournament in few weeks. I want to play them 100%. So no risk for me.”
The 10th seed is unsure whether or not he will play Rome next week, but this could hinder the Frenchman’s plans to be fully fit for his home grand slam.
“You know, for me, for the moment I will see on the next few days, how it goes. I’ll take, of course, a decision later if I go or not.” Tsonga added.
With a right calf strain earlier in the season followed by the birth of his first child, Tsonga has not played much tennis in 2017, and we are unsure how long he will be out with the shoulder injury. As for Ferrer, the Spaniard goes into the third round to face Kei Nishikori.
The Japanese, who stated pre-tournament that he is not 100%, got off to a slow start against the in-form Diego Schwartzman, but recovered from a set down to win 1-6, 6-0, 6-4 on Arantxa Sanchez court. The sixth seed looked almost dead on his feet in the first set which was dominated by the Argentine, but he recovered to take the second set 6-0. The third was the most competitive set with Nishikori failing to serve it out at 5-3. The Japanese did not let that detour him on his path to victory as he broke the very next game to seal his passage into round three.
“It was a very tough one.” Nishikori said in his post match press conference.
“He obviously playing good, very solid from baseline. He was very aggressive in the first set. But second set I start grinding little more, and playing little smarter, I think. I have to say little bit lucky for me. There was couple net and on the lines. Sometimes I need some luck to win.
“But second and third I’m very happy with my tennis. Play really good tennis.”
This was Nishikori’s first appearance on clay after recent injury woes have kept him out of action for a number of weeks. The sixth seed claimed prior to the tournament that he will not risk anything this week and will see how it goes. But after his win against Schwartzman he feels better physically.
“(I) Felt pretty good. Yeah, that was my first match of the clay. In the beginning I wasn’t playing hundred percent. But second and third I was feeling pretty good on the court, moving well. So I was very happy.” Nishikori added.
Mladenovic eases into quarter finals- speaks Dodin and Sharapova
Kristina Mladenovic’s great year continues after defeating Oceane Dodin 6-2, 6-1 to make the quarter finals of the Madrid Open.
The Frenchwoman had the measure of her compatriot throughout, returning and serving well on her way to an easy victory. Mladenovic had been critical of Dodin’s decision to not play Fed Cup, but felt there was not tension between the two players.
“I always say out loud what I think.” Said Mladenovic.
“No, as I said in my interview before the match, on my side there’s absolutely no tension. I mean, you know, I just speak out what I think.
“I still think this. But I think this girl is playing great tennis. She has a huge qualities. She’s young. I think if she’s working in the right direction, she can play really well. I mean, she proved it this week. She beat such a great players.
“You know, on the court I didn’t feel any tension. I’m there to focus on myself, to win my matches, no matter who is on the other side of the net. I’m just very happy to get there, be in the quarters.
“I’m sure there wasn’t anything negative out there on the court. We both played well, had a great attitude. Overall she’s having a great attitude on the court, even if I’m not talking to her a lot.
“The Fed Cup topic is something else. Hopefully one day she will be on the other side. I mean, the girls that understand this spirit, hopefully she can see good things about it.”
Mladenovic also weighed in on Bouchard’s comments about receiving support for her match against Maria Sharapova.
“I did receive a lot of messages before my match against Maria in Stuttgart and also afterwards. In Stuttgart, it was semifinals, the locker room was quite empty, so I didn’t speak to anyone.
“Here, of course I watched their match. I was finishing mine. I saw the last couple games on TV. I mean, this year, I’m in the beautiful locker room upstairs, in the top 16, Genie’s not. I didn’t see her. No, I didn’t, no.”
Mladenovic moves on to face Sorana Cirstea in the quarter finals after the Romanian dispatched Misaki Doi in three sets.
WTA Round up
Anastasija Sevastova is through to her first WTA Premier quarter final after a straight sets win over Lara Arruabarrena.
The Latvian had to stave off a fight back from the Spaniard is the first set as her 5-2 lead was brought back to 5-5. Sevastova remained cool enough to restore her lead immediately however and served out the set 7-5. The second set was much more plain sailing for the world number 22 who broke twice without facing a single break point to take the set 6-3 and book her quarter final spot against Kiki Bertens.
The Dutchwoman continued her good run of form in Madrid with another straight sets win, this time against Irina Begu. Bertens took the first set 6-1, but was made to work much harder for the second by her Romanian opponent. Bertens eventually took the set 7-5 and sealed her place in the last eight.
Simona Halep was tested by Sam Stosur but pulled through 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to set up a quarter final match against Coco Vandeweghe who defeated Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets.
ATP Round up
Milos Raonic got his Madrid campaign off to a comfortable start with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Gilles Muller. The Canadian broke once in each set and did not face a single break point en route to the third round where he will face David Goffin.
“I have to be happy with it (his performance). I did a lot of good things, created a lot of opportunities.” Raonic said post match.
“I did not really face any break points on my service games and did not get behind, so I am very please with my first match given how different the conditions are here compared to last week.”
Tomas Berdych is also through to the third round after a straight sets win over Robin Haase. The Czech took the first set on a tiebreaker 7-5, but the second was much more comfortable and he sealed it 6-3 to set up a match with Alexander Zverev who beat Istanbul champion Marin Cilic in three sets. Grigor Dimitrov overcame the big serve about Ivo Karlovic in a 6-3, 7-5 victory. The Bulgarian faces Dominic Thiem in the third round.