Madrid Open Monday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Monday Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Match of the Day

The road to Roland Garros escalates to a new level this week in Spain’s capital city.

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Victoria Azarenka (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, cpyright @Sport Vision)

On the men’s side, Nadal and Djokovic are the top seeds, but can’t be considered the heavy favorites considering their recent form.  Rafa is title-less in 2019 with five tournaments played, which includes two clay events he’s won 11 previous times in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.  Meanwhile, Novak is just 5-3 since winning his third straight Major in Australia. And then there’s Roger Federer, who is returning to clay for the first time since 2016.  Joining them in the men’s draw are Stan Wawrinka, Monte Carlo Champ Fabio Fognini, Barcelona Champ Dominic Thiem, a returning Juan Martin Del Potro, and a retiring David Ferrer.

 

On the women’s side, all of the top 20 players in the world entered this event, with the exception of Serena Williams, who will return next week in Rome.  The women’s singles event already played their opening matches over the weekend, and 7 of the 16 seeds went out in the first round. Elina Svitolina, Aryna Sabalenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys, Anett Kontaveit, Qiang Wang, and Julia Goerges are all already gone.  But through to the second round are World No.1 Naomi Osaka, Stuttgart Champ Petra Kvitova, French Open Champ Simona Halep, and Wimbledon Champ Angelique Kerber.

Sloane Stephens (8) vs. Victoria Azarenka

This is a rivalry that got off to a bitter start back in 2013.  In the Australian Open semifinals, Azarenka would leave the court due to anxiety issues, creating an extended break in the action right when Stephens was mounting a comeback.  Vika would win that event, her second and last Major title to date. Overall Azarenka won the first three matches in their head-to-head, but Stephens has won the last three, all taking place in 2018.  All six of their previous meetings took place on hard courts. The clay surface should favor Stephens, a finalist at Roland Garros one year ago. Azarenka has struggled to regain her form following an extended break from the sport due to the birth of her first child and the ensuing custody battle.  She did exhibit some positive signs in April, by making the final in Monterrey and the quarters in Stuttgart. Stephens meanwhile is only 11-7 this year after splitting with her former coach, Kamau Murray. But Sloane made two big announcements last week: her engagement to soccer player Jozy Altidore, and a new coach in the experienced Sven Groeneveld.  Stephens should be feeling positive given her recent news, and given her recent victories over Azarenka. This match will serve as a good indicator as to the French Open chances for both of these former Major champions.

Juan Martin Del Potro and Kei Nishikori vs. Fabio Fognini and Robert Lindstedt

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This will be the first match of the day on Stadium 3.  Normally a first round doubles match would not be the men’s match of the day, but this will be Juan Martin Del Potro’s return to the court.  Since suffering a knee injury in Shanghai last October, Del Potro has only played three matches. His knee was obviously not fully recovered when he tried to come back in Delray Beach earlier this year, but hopefully three more months of rest and rehab has changed that.  Juan Martin has entered both the singles and doubles draws this week. In doubles, he teams with a friend who also knows all too well how injuries can impact your career, Kei Nishikori. They’ll face two accomplished doubles players in Fognini and 42-year-old Robert Lindstedt.  That duo will be the favorites, but I’m curious to see how close to 100% Del Potro appears to be, as well as see Juan Martin and Kei playing together on a doubles court.

 

Other Notable Matches on Monday in Madrid:

  • Petra Kvitova (2) vs. Kristina Mladenovic.  Kvitova is a three-time champion in Madrid, and is 5-1 lifetime against Mladenovic
  • Kiki Bertens (7) vs. Jelena Ostapenko.  Bertens has been one of the WTA’s best clay court players over the past several seasons, while the 2017 French Open champion is only 7-13 in 2019

 

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Roland Garros: Novak Djokovic Dealt Thiem Challenge As Nadal Starts Against Qualifier

Novak Djokovic has been set a trickier draw than Rafael Nadal as they look to meet each other in this year’s final.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic could face last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals at Roland Garros as Rafael Nadal begins against a couple of qualifiers. 

 

This year’s draw is set to be the most competitive in a while on the men’s side as there has been a lack of dominance from Rafael Nadal in the lead up, having only won Rome.

Despite this, the Spaniard is will still be favourite to win his 12th title in Paris after what looks to be a fairly routine draw.

Meanwhile Novak Djokovic will be looking to hold all four grand slams at the same time for the second time in his career as he looks for a second Roland Garros title.

However standing in his way will be the likes of Borna Coric, Alexander Zverev and more notably last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem.

So with that being said, lets look at the men’s draw in closer detail:

1st Quarter – Djokovic’s Section

World number one Novak Djokovic will start his bid for a second Roland Garros title against Polish rising star Hubert Hurkacz. The Pole made his first Masters 100 quarter-final in Indian Wells and made his breakthrough in Paris last year, so this will be no easy for the Serb.

A match against Sam Querrey could then await in round two, with Gilles Simon being the projected round three. There is also the likelihood of playing Borna Coric in the second week, who will begin against Aljaz Bedene.

In the bottom half of this quarter, out-of-form Alexander Zverev will face John Millman in the first round, with Monte-Carlo runner-up Dusan Lajovic in round three. However a major roadblock could await the German in the last 16 as Fabio Fognini is in his section of the draw. The Italian will play compatriot Andreas Seppi in round one.

Notable R1’s:

Shapovalov v Struff

Fognini v Seppi

Johnson v Bautista Agut

Second Quarter – Thiem’s Section. 

Last year’s finalist, Dominic Thiem starts his bid for a first grand slam title against American wildcard Tommy Paul, with a potential round three meeting against Kyle Edmund.

The Brit will begin his campaign against Jeremy Chardy in a tough first match. Thiem’s potential quarter-final is Juan Martin Del Potro, who begins against powerful Chilean Nicolas Jarry. Talented Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime also appears in this quarter and is a potential third round for the powerful Argentinian.

Other potential seeds for Del Potro include Karen Khachanov and Lucas Pouille, while Gael Monfils is a dangerous floater in Thiem’s section.

Notable R1’s:

Chardy v Edmund

Verdasco v Evans

Jarry v Del Potro

Third Quarter – Federer’s Section

Roger Federer’s return to Roland Garros will begin against natural clay-courter Lorenzo Sonego. A third round match against in-form Matteo Berrettini could also await the 20 time grand slam champion, while Marco Cecchinato and Diego Schwartzman also lurk in Federer’s part of this quarter.

The Swiss’ potential quarter-final is Stefanos Tsitsipas, who starts against Maximillian Marterer. There is also a potential fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka or Marin Cilic for the Madrid finalist.

Notable R1’s:

Opelka v Garin

Tipsarevic v Dimitrov

Fucsovics v Schwartzman

Fourth Quarter – Nadal’s Section

Defending champion Rafael Nadal is looking for a remarkable 12th title in Paris and will begin against two qualifiers. A great draw gets better for the Spaniard, who will play David Goffin in his third round and also has Nikoloz Basilashvili in the last 16, a man he beat in Rome last week.

In the other section of this draw, Daniil Medvedev will look to take charge when he plays Pierre-Hughes Herbert in the first round. While Kei Nishikori is a potential fourth round match as he starts against French wildcard Quentin Halys.

Notable R1’s:

Tsonga v Gojowczyk

Humbert v Popyrin

Herbert v Medvedev

Here is the full draw, with play starting on Sunday:

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Albert Ramos-Vinolas Reveals Best Moment Of Career Ahead Of Geneva Quarters

Albert Ramos-Vinolas reveals the best moment of his career ahead of his Quarter-Final at the Geneva Open.

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Albert Ramos-Vinolas (@RolandGarros - Twitter)

Albert Ramos-Vinolas has revealed the best moment of his career ahead of his Geneva quarter-final with Federico Delbonis. 

 

The Spaniard seems to have overcome a poor run of form lately after qualifying for Rome last week, he has now won back-to-back matches in Geneva.

A 6-0 6-3 win over Joao Sousa means he is into the last eight in Geneva to play Federico Delbonis as he looks to build momentum towards Roland Garros.

However before his quarter-final match, Ramos-Vinolas told atptour.com in a recent interview what the best moment of his career was, “The first time I won an ATP match in Barcelona in 2010,” The Spaniard said.

“It’s my home tournament… I passed the qualies and I won my first match and then I beat Fernando Gonzalez, who was No. 12 in the world. I was No. 161. It was maybe one of the best moments of my career. It was on Court 1, which is not the centre court, but it’s quite big.

“I still remember the feeling: I was really happy. Everybody was thinking that it was not possible. So they were supporting me like crazy, like when a big football team is playing against maybe one from the second division, and the second division team wins. Everyone was supporting me like crazy. It was a great atmosphere.”

It is no surprise that the moment came in front of his home fans as it is a moment that he will never forget. Since then the Spaniard’s biggest achievement came in 2017 when he reached his first masters 1000 final in Monte-Carlo.

The 31 year-old will look to recreate his form in Monte-Carlo a couple of years ago to Geneva this week as he looks to win his second career title.

However it won’t be easy for Ramos-Vinolas as top seed Alexander Zverev still remains the draw as players look to gain some momentum heading into Roland Garros, which starts on Sunday.

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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.

 

The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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