Today was the final day of the final big clay event before the French Open at the end of the month in just over a week now. We saw the underdogs going into the final both get the win with a tough battle happening on the women’s side.
In the women’s final Elina Svitolina creeped out a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory after Simona Halep sustained an injury at the end of the first set. The first two sets were very high quality but by the third set Halep wasn’t moving as well as she had been and Svitolina ran away with it. Halep started strongly as she hit a number of great forehand winners to go out to a 2-5 lead. This was when Halep injured her ankle while going to hit a forehand and from there her movement just got worse. She still managed to close out the opener and put up a good fight in the second set as she attempted to close it out in straight sets. Svitolina went out to a 5-3 lead but Halep was determined to keep the battle going as she levelled it back at 5-5. Svitolina won seven straight games from there as she took the set and then raced out to a 5-0 lead as Halep was almost limping around the court. The Romanian got one more game but eventually Svitolina overcame nerves took that final game as she got the biggest title of her career. It was a disappointing end to a very competitive tournament but the match was still quite entertaining and I think everyone is hoping Halep has recovered for Rolland Garros.
The men’s tournament saw the youngest champion of a Masters title since 2007 as Alexander Zverev knocked out Novak Djokovic to capture his first Rome title. Zverev was serving incredibly well and he became just the second player ever to beat Djokovic in a final without facing a break point. Zverev broke Djokovic in the Serbian’s first service game of the match and that’s all he needed as there were no more breaks of serve on the way to the opener. Djokovic wasn’t playing an awful match but Zverev was putting on a performance that was possibly one of the best of his young career. He only got better in the second set as he lost just three points behind his serve and broke twice on the way to the match. Djokovic’s particular weakness was his second serve, which Zverev was tearing apart whenever he had the chance which saw Djokovic loss below 30% of points behind his second serve. This is a great result for Zverev and with this win his name has to go on the shortlist for the French Open no matter how under the radar he was at the beginning of this week.
There are a couple of pieces of off-court news that I wanted to discuss relating to Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azaranka. Djokovic has announced two major pieces of news the first of which being him taking on eight-time grand slam champion and former world number 1 Andre Agassi as a coach starting at the the French Open. This will be an interesting partnership but I am unsure as to how valuable Agassi will be as a coach. Djokovic has also announced he will be partnering with Lacoste as his new on-court brand as of the French Open. Djokovic seems to be reinventing himself after a poor start to the year as he’s changed his coaching team, he’s taken on an unexpected coach and now a new clothing endorsement. The Victoria Azarenka news is she has changed her plans and instead of returning for the Bank of the West Classic she will be back at Wimbledon this year. I’m looking forward to seeing her back on court and considering the women’s field at the moment it wouldn’t be out of this world if she took her first title at the All England Club.