Sorry I didn’t post yesterday, I was a bit under the weather and wasn’t able to do a review or a match preview. Today was the day that a lot of the top seeds starting their campaigns and the seeds were very successful with only one of the five seeds in action falling, leaving them with an 80% success rate.
Jo Wilfried-Tsonga became the first seed to be knocked out of the tournament as he fell to Adrian Mannarino 6-7(3-7), 6-2, 6-3. I had Tsonga to reach the semifinals so I am quite surprised that he fell to Mannarino yesterday but there will still be a lot of opportunities for him to get some French Open prep. Mannarino played a really great last two sets and he was mixing up his shots and making it harder for Tsonga to read his game. The first set was very high quality with both men playing at the same level and even though a pair of breaks were exchanged, it looked like it would go to a breaker for a lot of the set. Tsonga played a great tiebreaker and he managed to take it convincingly but Mannarino bounced back very well. In just 17 minutes, Mannarino climbed to a 4-0 lead with the double break and it was on serve from there. In the second set, Tsonga wasn’t playing very well but Mannarino was making him move in to uncomfortable positions and was really dictating the play. Tsonga improved for the final set but he went down a break early to be trailing his countryman 3-1. Tsonga managed to break back and he got the set back on serve at 4-3 down but Mannarino broke immediately and then served out the match. This is just the second top 10 win of Mannarino’s career and it comes on his least favourite surface so it would have been very sweet.
It looked like Novak Djokovic might have become the next upset victim at some points in his match but he eventually got past Gilles Simon 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Djokovic had great moments during the match but was quite inconsistent and in the end it was Simon’s nerves that lost him the match. The first set was quite interesting as neither man really looked like they were the better of the two and even though two early breaks were exchanged, there wasn’t much movement on serve. Djokovic eventually got the break when Simon was under pressure when serving at 4-3 down. He went on to serve out the set at the first time of asking without showing any sings of nerve. The second set was quite similar to the first set but the roles were switched with Simon taking it in the end. The third set should have gone the way of Gilles Simon but it was his mental strength and nerves that stopped him from closing it out. The Frenchman went up an early break to start the match but Djokovic broke back and then Simon broke again to have the opportunity to serve out the match at 4-5 up. Simon got very nervous and a lot of errors started creeping in which saw Djokovic sweep the next three games and take the match. This will not be a confidence-boosting performance for the Serbian and I suspect that he will be disappointed that he gave Simon the chance to beat him.
David Goffin was also a winner on Tuesday as he moved past the clay-court specialist that is Nicolas Almagro 7-5, 6-1 to round out the play on the main court. Goffin looks comfortable on the clay and had got two really good straight set wins in Monte-Carlo so if I were him I would be feeling confident about defending quarterfinal points at the French Open in the coming months. Neither man was strong on serve in the first set and it was very break heavy with Almagro being broken three times and Goffin twice. Almagro was serving horribly and the stat that really shows that is him only winning 6 of his 18 points behind his second serve. I know it’s totally different but even juniors can hit well above 50% of their second serves in every single match. Almagro’s serving didn’t get any better for the second set and he also lost the magic he was producing on his return which left him without any chance. He got one hold of serve towards the end of the set but didn’t get a break point opportunity on the Goffin serve and failed to change his game plan as the match fell away from him. Goffin will be feeling very good about his first couple of matches here and with an out-of-sorts Djokovic in his quarter, he could be in the semi-finals for the weekend.
Our feature match saw Pablo Cuevas play a nice and steady match to get a 6-3, 6-3 win over Joao Sousa. Cuevas didn’t play well to start the year but now that he is at home on the clay, I think he is starting to get his groove back and the belief that he can go on and win tournaments. All throughout the match Sousa was complaining and he wasn’t happy with anything he was doing which is always disappointing to see when you’re watching a tennis match. Cuevas was really good today and he’s forehand was what led him to all his successes today. The first blood of the match was when Cuevas got the break to lead 4-1 in the first set and then didn’t give Sousa another break point opportunity in the set. Cuevas only dropped three points on serve for the entire set so there was nothing Sousa could have done to prevented the first set loss in reality. In the second set, Sousa went down an early break and then while under pressure got broken again while serving to stay in the match. Cuevas won the match on a volley that really got Sousa upset but nonetheless it was a great win. I really think that with Tsonga out and Wawrinka bring inconsistent that Cuevas will now reach the semifinals.
I won’t be doing a match preview today just because I don’t want to be staring at a screen for too long while I’m recovering. The feature match for tomorrow will be between Grigor Dimitrov and Jan-Lennard Struff.