The highly anticipated Stuttgart tournament has begun and now the excitement is really starting to build for me and other fans of tennis for Sharapova’s return. The action in all four venues today saw only seven of the fifteen seeds in action win their matches leaving the seeds with a 47% success rate. You will notice I have imbedded some tweets for the first time in this post and I will continue to do this. For every match I discuss I will be including the match point and what I thought was the point of the match.
In Barcelona, Alexander Zverev played a great and entertaining match as he made his way past the clay-court specialist that is Nicolas Almagro 7-6(7-4), 4-6, 6-4. Both men gave it their best and it was a real physical battle by the end of the 2 hour and 25 minutes encounter. Zverev really looked good on court and he was dealing with a lot of the slicing and dicing that Almagro was throwing at him with some some great down the line shots. Zverev did go out to an early lead in the first but Almagro broke back and sent it to a tiebreaker. In the breaker, with both players deserved to win, it was Zverev who was the one who sneaked it out. Almagro was unbelievable in the second set but Zverev was matching his level for a lot of the set. The home favourite managed to get the break towards the end of the set to send the match to a decider. Almagro rode his momentum into the third set as he went up an early break to lead 1-3 but from there he started to tire and his level went down. He got another break when Zverev was trying to serve it out at 5-3 but apart from that it was the higher-ranked player all the way as Zverev got the win.
In Stuttgart, our feature match saw Ekaterina Makarova play a fantastic match on the way to upsetting Agnieszka Radwanska 6-2, 6-4, who was been in a bad slump since the start of the year. Makarova played a picture perfect match but Radwanska looked unenergised and I wouldn’t be surprised if she was unwell because she did take medication in-between sets. Radwanska was slow to get out of the blocks at the beginning of the match as Makarova broke in the opening game of the match and went on to claim a 3-1 lead. She fended off a Radwanska break opportunity and then consolidated the break to lead 4-2. Radwanska played a another error-strewn game and Makarove broke again before serving out the easy 6-2 set. The Pole made it more competitive in the second set as she looked like she was feeling a bit more comfortable and fit on court. The were five straight breaks to start the set before Makarova held to lead 4-2 and later get the opportunity to serve out the set at 5-4. In that game, Radwanska went out to a 0-40 lead but Makarova fought back with some great winners and held to take the match. Makarova played a great match, in which she hit a very impressive 30 winners, but it leaves us to wonder what’s going on with Aga. She hasn’t won back-to-back matches since the second week of the year, which also the last time she beat a top 20 opponent. She will definitely want to be out of this soup by the time the grass-court season comes around.
In Budapest, we had the veteran thirty year-old Robin Haase advance to the second round with a 6-1, 6-3 dominant display over Monte-Carlo quarterfinals Diego Schwartzman. Schwartzman looked like he was under a lot of pressure and looked more nervous than normal on the court, which was a big factor in the amount of faults and unforced errors he was hitting. The first was almost painful to watch as there was nothing the Argentinian could do but miss a lot of the time. Haase stayed solid and he broke his opponent three times on the way to easing through the opener. Schwartzman was able to put up more of a fight in the second set as he was able to hold serve a couple of times to begin. Eventually he started to tense up again and Haase pounced as got anther two breaks on him, including one to take the match. Haase doesn’t get these dominant wins over top 50 players anymore so this will be a great confidence booster for him.
(couldn’t find clips of the Haase match)
In Istanbul, Sorana Cristea easily got through her match with Fiona Ferro 6-3, 6-1 on one of the outside courts in Istanbul. Cristea was being built up as the next French Open champion a couple of years a go but injury plagued her younger season and she is only just now rebuilding her ranking. Cristea is a great clay-court player and that was on display today as she used all her techniques to pull out such a dominant win. In the first set, Ferro as making a lot of unforced errors and her service games were easily being swept up by Cristea’s deep groundstrokes. Cristea went up an early break to lead 3-0 and that’s all she needed as she rode the broke through the first set. The second set was much of the same but Ferro started getting a bit more down on herself and upset, which only made things worse. Cristea got three breaks on the way to the second set as she closed out a solid match from start to finish. I watched a little of this match and was impressed with Ferro as I haven’t seen her play much but her name had popped up in main draws quite bit recently. She is from France and 20 years old, I wish her the best for the rest of her time on tour, which will probably over a decade depending on different circumstances. (Couldn’t find clips of this match)
I might upload a match preview when I wake up to watch Maria Sharapova’s match (at 2:30am?!?!?!). My feature match for tomorrow is the match after Maria’s: Garbine Muguruza v Anett Kontaviet.