It was almost a year ago when tennis stopped for around 6 months, now it is back and slightly different to usual but March is set to be a big month tennis as big players return, records are broken and of course titles are won.
Roger Federer to return in Qatar!
A couple of days ago Roger Federer touched down in Qatar, a mixture of the Covid-19 Pandemic and a knee problem which required surgery twice meant we haven’t seen the 20 time Grand Slam champion play a match since the 30th of January 2020 when he lost in three sets to Novak Djokovic.
Roger says he is ready to return and his knee feels good. It is possible the Swiss could be against Dan Evans in his first match which will be on Wednesday. Dan and Roger have practiced together many times in the past with the Brit being invited over to Switzerland before and did practice this weekend too.
All eyes will be on Qatar on Wednesday as Federer will play his first match in 406 days.
Petra Kvitova picks up title No.28
As the men arrive in Qatar one lady leaves Qatar with a very big smile on her face and that is Petra Kvitova.
The Czech does boast a superbly strong record in finals winning 28 of 38 she has played and has now won a title in 11 of the last 13 years even though she missed almost half a year after that horrific knife attack at her home.
She looked strong all week and with Petra it is never easy but an early battle usually shows her intent through the week. She had one with Anett Kontaveit which she came through in three sets winning 6-3 3-6 6-2 and then in her semi-finals and final against Pegula and Muguruza respectively won 6-4 6-4 and 6-2 6-1.
Novak breaks the record!
Novak Djokovic will on Monday be the world number one for a 311th week which is a mens record.
The record was 310 which was level with Roger Federer but the domination over the Serb over the last decade has been quite phenomenal.
The week he first became world number one he had seen Federer hold that position for 282 weeks and since 4th of July 2011 he has dominated:
Weeks as World No.1 (active players)
Djokovic – 311
Federer – 310
Nadal – 209
Murray – 41
Weeks as World No.1 (since 4th July 2011)
Djokovic – 311
Nadal – 99
Murray – 41
Federer – 28
How far will Djokovic get too?
Kei Nishikori wanted to be a what?
A bit of fun in Rotterdam this week. It was good to see one of the prestigious ATP 500 events in Rotterdam deliver an exceptional event despite having no fans.
As they couldn’t have kids day this year due to Covid-19 they gave kids the chance to ask players what they wanted to be growing up and well it was an answer from Kei Nishikori which even surprised Andy Murray:
Andrey Rublev wins his 4th consecutive ATP 500 title
Andrey Rublev continues to go from strength to strength. The Russian who starred at the ATP Cup but fell to teammate Medvedev at the Australian Open has picked up the title in Rotterdam this week.
It is in fact the Russian’s fourth title at ATP 500 level in a row and his eighth title in a row having not lost a final for almost two years now.
Rublev impresses more and more every time I watch him, his game is adapting more to be able to be better inside the court but the rate he hits his forehand at and his intensity is beautiful. He defeated Fucsovic in the final to win but his performance against Tsitsipas was top class in the semi-finals, he nullified everything the Greek had to offer.
The next thing I want to see from Andrey is really pushing at Masters 1000 and Grand Slam level and picking some more big wins.
It has been quite the two weeks for the two brothers from Buenos Aires who have starred at home in Argentina at events in Cordoba and Buenos Aires respectively.
19 year old Juan Manuel Cerundolo made his ATP debut having come through qualifying in Cordoba and then won his first ATP title in the same week! It was a week that saw him defeat Thiago Seyboth Wild in the first round and then his remaining four main draw matches all went the distance and he won them all defeating Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-0 2-6 6-2 in dramatic fashion.
This week it has been about another qualifier in 23 year old Francisco Cerundolo who is the older brother of Juan. Francisco likewise came through qualifying and then it followed a similar pattern. He came through in straight sets against Coria before he fought back from a set down against Paire and Andujar and Albert Ramos Vinolas who must be sick of the sight of the brothers lost in three sets to the Argentine as he made his way to the final.
Sadly for Francisco his week didn’t end the same way as Juan as the 23 year old was halted by fellow Argentine Diego Schwartzman who won 6-1 6-2 to lift the title at home!
On the run with Alex de Minaur!
Alex de Minaur has history with shots like this and he opened his week against fellow Aussie John Millman in sensational fashion as he left his compatriot stunned with this incredible defence…
What next for Andy Murray?
Andy Murray showed he can compete still despite some raising doubts but he does hold himself to high standards and has said he will be looking at what was the difference in sets and how to improve.
His plan is to play as much as is comfortable in what is quite a hectic time of the year. The plan is Dubai and Miami despite not officially being on entry lists as of yet.
It will be interesting to see how much of a European Clay Court swing he plays, with it being in Europe it does tick a box on travel for him but he has only played one match on the dirt in almost four years.
Clara Tauson wins her first WTA title
The 18 year old from Denmark who has played most of her tennis on the ITF tour played her first WTA tournament of the year and won her first WTA title with a 6-4 6-1 win over Golubic.
It was only about a month ago that Tauson and Golubic met in the final at the ITF event in the UAE and it was won by the Dane.
This last week having come through qualifying won her first title which included a straight sets win over top seed Ekaterina Alekandrova in the first round and went onto win the tournament without dropping a set!
There has been plenty of tennis over the last couple of weeks coming into March.
It was nice to see David Goffin win his title for the first time in over 3 years since October 2017. Goffin won his fifth ATP title in Montpellier against Roberto Bautista Agut winning from a set down.
A few thousand miles away in Singapore also saw a first career title for Alexei Popyrin who defeated Alexander Bublik in three sets to win his maiden tour title.
As well as titles for Petra Kvitova and Clara Tauson we have seen titles since the Australian Open for Daria Kasatkina and Iga Swiatek.
To see Daria win another title was good in a strong week down in Melbourne beating Marie Bouzkova. The other champion before leaving Australia was Iga Swiatek, the Pole defeated Belinda Bencic quite easily in the final dropping four games to pick up her second career title after her Roland Garros crown last autumn.