The last time a joint mens and women’s event went ahead was incredibly at the Australian Open.
This week tennis continues it’s return with the Western and Southern Open usually held in Cincinnati but in order to create a safer bubble for players the event which is owned by the USTA has been moved a few thousand miles East to Flushing Meadows the site of the US Open which will begin following the conclusion of “Cincinnati”
Two players who were in action on Saturday were Victoria Azarenka and Andy Murray with both searching for their first win of the calendar year.
Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-3 Donna Vekic
Following her exit in Lexington last week I said Vika needs a bit of time. We can look at it and say prior to Cincinnati one win in thirteen but she has barely played so hadn’t had chance to build momentum and played just one match from the US Open last year to March this year before the pandemic.
Last week in Lexington I didn’t think Vika played too badly as she fell 3-6 2-6 to Venus in round one and saw Vika against Donna Vekic in Cincinnati really turn it up. The only issue that stood out for Vika against Venus was her serve but it stood up perfectly and once this stands up like this she then is able to go for it off the forehand.
I really like the performance from Vika, it was smart and oozed confidence. The way she pushed Donna around the court in the early exchanges with her forehand was poetic and then to bring in the brutality of the backhand too it complemented her game.
Next up for Vika will be Sloane Stephens or Caroline Garcia who both need some wins too.
Andy Murray 7-6 3-6 6-1 Frances Tiafoe
What a great return for Andy Murray at Masters 1000 Level, just to re-iterate the time he had off and hip issues and resurfacing he has had done.
It is his 7th official win on the bounce now defeating Frances Tiafoe in three sets, not only that but it was his first ATP tour match in just over 10 months when he beat Wawrinka to win in Antwerp, the following month he did defeat Griekspoor in Davis Cup but that has been it for him.
I expected an early battle and the match delivered. Murray settled into his rhythm over time in that first set and looked pretty sharp for someone with no recorded matches prior to the pandemic.
Frances’ performance lacked conviction. He saw the first break point but couldn’t convert and squandered a 5-2 lead in the tie-break against Murray and lost it 6-8 with Andy finding a perfect forehand down the line following excellent anticipation from the Brit.
He did fight back well and was effective at the net but in the third set it was a runaway from Andy with Frances hitting too many errors as Murray sealed the third easily.
Next up for Murray is Alex Zverev who will be making his tour return. He obviously came under fire for some of his antics at the Adria Tour so it will be interesting to see how he does.
Zverev will not be joined by his new coach David Ferrer in New York over the next few weeks but will meet up in Rome.
It’s the type of challenge Murray said he wanted and he will be ready to test the German in round two.