The Final Word on the Madrid Open 2021

In the Cauldron of the Caja Magica in Madrid we have seen some fantastic tennis, surprises and some leaving with more questions than answers.

Daniil “I hate this surface” Medvedev

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev’s love but mostly hate relationship with the clay courts continued in Madrid this time around.

For the first time in his career he won a match on the dirt in Spain against Davidovich Fokina but did show his frustrations and love for the clay…

Not too long after saw the Russian’s love for the clay come out…

The love affair didn’t last long as Cristian Garin upset the world number two in three sets in the third round.

Muchova stars as fine 2021 form continues!

Karolina Muchova’s good form in 2021 continued this week with a good run in Madrid, the Czech’s baseline game and smooth but strong forehand proved too much early on in the week for Naomi Osaka as the world number two was toppled on a surface she isn’t quite at home on yet.

Win against Osaka was the latest in a fine line of top wins this year having already beaten fellow Czech Pliskova in Australia and Ash Barty in Melbourne to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

Before this run in Madrid we had only seen Muchova once in over two months since Melbourne due to an Abdominal injury but will be one to watch over the next few weeks and into the grass court season as well.

Outstanding Aryna!

After a tough end to a very good week in Stuttgart the question was, how would Aryna Sabalenka react coming to Madrid?

Absolutely outstanding throughout, en-route to the final she didn’t drop more than three games a set before meeting Ash Barty. The way the Belarusian started the final was simply outstanding winning the first six games.

I always say winning a set 6-0 can be the best or worst thing to happen to you and the errors began to creep in, a similar situation to the Stuttgart final. This time despite there being a blip and further errors sneaking into her game kept up to the world number ones pace.

At 4-4 it did feel like we were edging to one conclusion but a stunning return game and hold of serve which culminated in Sabalenka winning 8 points in a row saw the recently turned 23 year old win the biggest title of her career and her 10th singles title.

Paula Badosa’s fairytale run!

It was a wonderful week at home for Paula Badosa after injury on her debut in 2015 and then in 2016 halting her progress at the Mutua Madrid Open.

After a good run in Charleston beating the world number one Ash Barty it was the Aussie who ended the Spaniard’s run this time in the semi-finals but she played a phenomenal tournament.

Her run to the final four included a win over Belinda Bencic but it was her third round battle on Anastasia Sevastova on Arantxa Sanchez Vicario court which grabbed the headlines which ended with the Spaniard winning the final set 6-0.

Simona’s missed opportunity?

Simona Halep started her run in Madrid in fantastic fashion winning 6-0 7-5 against Sorribes Tormo and 6-0 6-4 against the Saisai Zheng.

A good start did turn into a bad end for the Romanian in a match which went down as a missed opportunity against Elise Mertens. The 2019 Madrid finalist led the Belgian by a set and by a break in the second set and by a break twice in the third set but couldn’t get the job done.

It is far from ideal for the Halep in the build up to Roland Garros but needs to be a quick reset going into the second major of the year where you would consider her to be a favourite. 

Rafa’s semi-final defeat a problem?

Rafael Nadal would of course love to win at home, any player would but I wouldn’t put this down as a problem this week.

He does reset better than most, his mentality is absolutely sensational and we will see him bounce back quite quickly in Rome, whether he wins or not I don’t think it matters too much. 

Where all eyes will be on him is at Roland Garros and he’s lost just a couple of times in 15 years or more and it is ok to beat Rafa now but not many have done it on the dirt in Paris…

Thiem’s good return to action

At the end of his run in Madrid, Dominic Thiem simply ran out of steam but I have to say I did think it was a fine return to the tour for the US Open champion.

Thiem has been talking about burnout lately and how he is going to play less on the tour but on his return settled in quite nicely.

Defeat to Sascha Zverev will be dissapointing for the Austrian but we saw glimpses of what he can do on the clay courts but just needs to bring it all together now.

Similar to Rafael Nadal in some sense that he will want to do most of his talking at Roland Garros but there is still this monkey on his back of never winning a Masters 1000 on a clay court.

We know how hard Thiem trains and that did show in his early matches and in the match vs Zverev which was a tough watch, will Thiem now have enough time to prep for Paris?

Ruud’s run takes him into Top 20

Casper Ruud will probably have a feeling leaving Madrid of ‘what if?’ After a below par performance against Matteo Berrettini on Saturday evening but the latest run from the 22 year old will see him debut in the top 20 in the world.

It is the third consecutive Masters 1000 semi-final for Ruud on the clay dating back to Rome last year and his good form in Monte-Carlo and Madrid continued.

The Norwegian had a tricky draw on paper but actually orchestrated his way through it pretty well:

6-1 6-4 vs Felix Auger Aliassime
6-1 6-2 vs Yoshihito Nishioka
7-6 6-4 vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
7-5 6-1 vs Alexander Bublik

On Saturday in the semi-final with Matteo I was a bit disappointment, the game plan seemed rushed and without creating many opportunities, it will be interesting to see how he continues, I hope another great run again and could be one to keep an eye on in Paris.

Berrettini’s resurgence after injury in Melbourne

There was nothing more disappointing than seeing an inform Matteo Berrettini have to pull out of the Australian Open injured and after a couple of months out the question was, will he return to his good form?

The answer was yes, he left Monte-Carlo in the first round but then picked up the title in Serbia with a three set win over Aslan Karatsev who of course beat Djokovic and then a run to the final in Madrid as well.

He has been in such fine form, he is hitting with good pace, hi forehand is just electric and there is a big confidence in his game right now and I am soo pleased for him. The balance in his game is perfect, he has introduced his dropshot well, his forehand has been electric!

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