Nadal Continues Clay Season Domination with Madrid Title

Happy mother day to all the mothers out there. I haven’t been able to make posts this week due to exams and sickness but as you know I make updates to Facebook. Nadal continued his clean sweep of the clay court season today with a 7-6(8), 6-4 win over Thiem.

So congrats to him and to Thiem as well for another good week where he made his first Masters semi-final and final. He did very well in the final where he broke Nadal in the third game and came back from 3-5 in the tiebreak where he had two set points but in the end, Nadal had the edge.

This is Nadal’s 5th Madrid title. On his way to the title, he also won his first match against Djokovic after losing 15 consecutive sets and 7 matches to his nemesis, 6-2, 6-4. Unfortunately for Djokovic, Nishikori’s withdrawal in the quarterfinals didn’t help him at all.

After a promising 6-4, 7-5 victory over Lopez Djokovic was scheduled to play Nishikori in the quarterfinals who withdrew due to physical problems like so many times before. This meant an already heavily undercooked Djokovic had to sit the day out while Nadal could get into prime shape against Goffin.

Not that he needed to. He’d already won Monte Carlo and Barcelona as well as many more matches earlier this year. So the result was no surprise at all. It was not the conditions I hoped for as far as their first clay court meeting went.

Djokovic was always going to be the only one who really had a chance of stopping Nadal and blowing some life into this clay court season but Nishikori’s withdrawal may have ruined all chances of that happening.

It would have been better for Djokovic to play against Nishikori and lose than to lose 6-2, 6-4 to Nadal, but it was likely that he would have won and gotten another much-needed injection of confidence before facing Nadal.

Things just keep working against Djokovic and for Nadal. But that’s what momentum does. That’s why the past matters and why I said after Barcelona that I think Nadal will win the French Open. Djokovic still had a shot at stopping Nadal but the Nishikori episode makes it look like Nadal is truly destined to win a 10th French Open this year.

That said, Djokovic will take some positives from his week in Madrid and try to do one better again in Rome. That’s all he can do. Keep grinding away with blind faith that his luck will eventually turn again.

That’s all that anyone can do. This is just Federer and Nadal’s time after they did the same for a long time while Djokovic was dominating. Peaks and slumps are as sure to follow each other as night follows day. It’s a law of nature.

Fans will look for reasons and scapegoats like Pepe Imaz(who Djokovic has known for many years) ignoring the fact that the valley is as deep as the mountain is high and none had a higher peak than Djokovic did in 2015 and 2016.

It is no wonder then that he is currently in the deepest slump of his career. Just before that he had the highest peak of his career! But as long as he cares(which he clearly does) then as sure as night follows day he will get out of it again and reach another peak.

  • Highlights

 

Murray Pummels Nadal in Front of His Home Crowd in Madrid


  • Murray Does the Unthinkable

Well, what a nice surprise that was on a Sunday afternoon! I had already conceded the final to Nadal after Murray defeated Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 yesterday. So when Murray won the first set against Nadal today and went a break up in the second set, I sat up straight. Murray played very well to beat Nishikori but so did Nadal to beat Berdych 7-6(3), 6-1. And given that this was on clay and Nadal owns Murray 15-5 in the head-to-head, I didn’t really see how Murray could win.

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But Nadal’s level dropped once again in the final and Murray took full advantage. Murray became visibly nervous in the second set, especially when he missed a drive volley with an open court in front of him on break point to get the second break at 2-0. I thought he had thrown it away there, but thank God he set up another break point and took it. And when he consolidated that break to take a 4-0 lead you had to believe that the big upset was on the cards. Murray still appeared nervous but to his credit held on to win 6-3, 6-2.

  • Nadal Falls Out Of the Top 5 For the First Time in Ten Years

What?! This good old thrashing means Nadal falls out of the top five to number seven in the rankings for the first time in ten years. What an awesome situation! With this win, Murray basically shattered all the confidence Nadal built up during Madrid with his cakewalk draw, and there is no telling who will be next to cash in at Rome. Since I heard of the withdrawal of the Djoker from Madrid I thought it could be a risk because had Nadal won Madrid it would have given him a lot of confidence.

  • Murray’s Revival

And when Nishikori lost I thought he had gotten lucky again. But big credit to Murray for the way he played last week in Munich and now in Madrid. And that after I said Murray is a non-factor on clay before he won Munich. I guess I un-jinxed him! All of a sudden, he is a serious factor on clay. He may even be a surprise winner of the French Open if he keeps this up. I’m not gonna say he won’t be because then I may just un-jinx him again and I don’t want him to win the French Open.

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Married life and beards seem to agree with Murray

But credit to him for how he got his act together this year after he was still recovering from surgery in 2014. He’s been very solid this year in the big events and is second in the race behind the Djoker. As far as the live ATP rankings go Berdych breaks into the top four for the first time in his career I think, just ten points ahead of Nishikori. That is also deserved with the way he has been playing. Not only does Nadal fall to number seven in the rankings but he has 2600 points to defend in the next three weeks!

  • Rome and Paris

As you’d expect the draw in Rome is favorable again for him, but his confidence just took another hit and who knows who he could lose to. Of course, the Djoker is back too and he will be tested because he has Nishikori in his quarter and Murray in his half. But it is good to know he is back just in case Nadal makes the final again. If Nadal wins Rome he is again the outright favorite for the French Open probably, despite everything that has happened of late. So it is good to know the anti-Nadal is back.

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Nadal was looking back to his best again against Berdych but like I said getting thrashed like this by Murray can’t be good for his confidence. I still think he probably needs to win a tournament before Paris for his confidence, but you’re never gonna count him out there either. If however he does not win the French Open this year he will be in serious trouble in the rankings. Already he could face Djokovic or Murray in the quarter-finals in Paris which could easily cause an upset.

In the end, the Djoker’s withdrawal from Madrid was a very good decision because he will be rested and ready for his title defense in Rome and for another onslaught on the career slam in Paris. But let’s see what happens in Rome first. All the top players are present and all of them want that trophy and to boost their French Open chances in the process. This should be another very interesting week indeed!

 

  • Highlights

  • Match Stats

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The is in your court.

Kyrgios Defeats Federer in Madrid Classic

This match was a highly anticipated second round encounter between arguably the GOAT and the brightest young star of the tennis world. And it didn’t fail to live up to its billing. Kyrgios won the encounter 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12) in surely the best three-set match of the year so far, if not the best match. It’s unfortunate that there had to be a loser because both players were playing phenomenal tennis. Neither player deserved to lose and it was unfortunate that they had to meet so early in the draw.

  • Opening Set

Kyrgios got off to the ideal start as he broke Roger in the opening game. It was clear he meant business as he let rip with a big ‘Come on!’ when he won break point. But since Roger found his clay court game in Istanbul he broke back with a terrific game when Kyrgios was serving for the first set at 5-4. Both players continued to hold serve and in the tie-break Kyrgios lost his cool after a poor line call. He got a code violation and didn’t recover as he lost the tie-break 7-2. After the early danger, it looked like Kyrgios’ youthful outburst would cost him the match.

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  • Second Set

That seemed to be especially the case when Roger got the break at the beginning of the second set as well. But this Kyrgios is just a remarkable player for his age. He broke back in the fourth game to even the score at 2-2 and again he let rip with a massive ‘Come on!’. The second set came down to a tie-break too and this time it was Kyrgios who raced to a 5-1 lead. Roger did well to pull it back to 5-6, but Kyrgios made no mistake on his own serve when he pounded down another big first serve to claim the second set.

  • The Decider

It was down to a deciding set to decide who would be the winner of what had already developed into a very good match. And fittingly it would be decided by a tie-break after there were no more breaks in the third set. And what a tie-break it was. Kyrgios got the mini-break twice, but Roger pulled him back on both occasions. At 8-8 in the tie-break, Kyrgios set up a match point on his own serve with a ballsy drop shot that Roger could not reach. I thought he had it in the bag, but Roger came up with a strong backhand drive that forced Kyrgios into error.

At 12-12, Kyrgios came up with another gutsy play as he forced the error from Roger with a forehand drive I think. Then at 13-12 he finally held serve to win the classic encounter as Roger hit a forehand well wide.

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  • Closing Observations

I think at the end if there was any difference at all between the two players it was that Kyrgios’ was just a tad more clutch than Roger. First he came back from a set and a break down and then in the final set breaker he was just a bit bolder than Roger. There was just a sense that he was playing with a little more freedom but like I said there was very little between the two. It was a tough draw and loss for Roger but he won’t feel too bad about it. At least now he can play Rome without having any doubts about it.

And I’m sure he will get a better draw in Rome. It is a shame that his draw was so tough in Madrid because he clearly found his clay court game in Instanbul, was playing very well, and the altitude suits his game. But you can’t win them all and an awful lot of credit must go to Kyrgios who played a remarkable match. After the first set and a break down you thought he lost it because of immaturity, but then he comes back to win the match in a high-pressure third set tie-break.

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I’m not crazy about Kyrgios’ cocky personality, but you can’t deny that he has big match temperament and that he is the next big thing in tennis. His serve is exceptional, he has a huge forehand, a very solid backhand, he has an all-court game, and he is mentally very good. He can clearly also play very well on clay, which is something I wasn’t sure about with his attacking game style. I mean he has it all. Almost all tennis players are arrogant anyway. Kyrgios just more so.

A nice thing he said at the end of the match is that Roger is the GOAT to him and that this was his biggest win yet, even bigger than the win against Nadal at Wimbledon. Kyrgios’ serve is really exceptional and Roger said afterward that he couldn’t return it properly. But probably for me what made the difference in the end was the total abandon Kyrgios’ played with. We saw the same against Nadal at Wimbledon. He doesn’t get down on himself at all and he doesn’t fear anyone.

He was asked afterward about playing Roger and he said it was just another match.

  • Elsewhere in the draw

Nadal’s cakewalk draw began today against Johnson who had a pathetic backhand that he kept slicing which is a terrible tactic against Nadal on clay. Nadal didn’t impress at all, but the organizers made sure he got a very comfortable opener to get some confidence going. And now he plays Bolelli after the seed Anderson already lost first round. At least Stan won a match for a change and now plays Dimitrov again after he tanked against Dimitrov in Monte Carlo.

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Hopefully, his issues are sorted out by now and he will play seriously against Dimitrov this time. He could definitely beat Nadal if he plays well, but that is still a big if. And at least Kyrgios, Isner, Tsonga, and Berdych are all alive in the top quarter which means Nadal will have to face a big server with big ground strokes in the semis. So actually Nadal’s draw can still be a decent challenge. As for Nishikori he just won 6-4 in the third against Goffin which I am relieved to see.

His draw is tough and I hope he makes the final in case Nadal is waiting there. Finally, Murray is still on court against Kohlschreiber and is a break up in the first set. That about concludes my coverage for the day. It’s a shame Roger lost today because he finally found his game on clay and was actually looking very good again. I would have loved to see him play more matches and go deep here. But at least he can play Rome now and I am still hopeful that he can go deep there and in Paris.

 

  • Highlights

  • Match Stats

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The  is in your court.