When in Rome…

A trip to the Foro Italico is the perfect last preparation ahead of a trip to Paris not too far down the line.

The sight at the Foro Italico is one of the most beautiful in tennis, the centre piece of Court Centrale and one of the most picturesque in tennis, the Pietrangelli stadium court which can be one of Tennis’ magnificent cauldrons.

Serena’s plans change following defeat on 1000th match

Serena Williams played her 1000th singles match of her career this week and it ended in defeat. In all honesty I wasn’t completely stunned by the result, Nadia has proven t be a very good player on the clay.

We have seen this at Roland Garros last year, Nadia made the final four after eight wins in a row through qualifying and defeating Svitolina in the final four. 

It was a historic moment fro the Argentine who for the first time in 123 years of women’s draws at Roland Garros did a qualifier make the semi-finals.

Did Serena play bad in Rome? No. Was it obvious she lacked matches? Yes and I said I can’t see how you can turn up to a stacked Rome draw having not played for three months and be prepared for a Grand Slam.

Patrick has announced that Serena will be staying in Italy for now and has taken a wildcard for the first edition of the WTA 250 event – Emili-Romagna Open in Parma.

Serena will be there with sister Venus and the 23 time major champion is the top seed and only top 20 player ranked taking part. Serena is one of five seeds from America, the others including Anisimova, Keys and the impressive Pegula and Coco Gauff

Zvonareva’s return to Rome!

A wonderful moment at the beginning of the week in Rome saw the return to Rome for the 36 year old Russian.

Vera came through qualifying in Rome to win a main draw match at the Foro Italico for the first time since 2008, it was an obviously emotional moment for Vera who on her Rome debut in 2004 and then 2005 made the final four on her debut.

The 36 year old beat Christina McHale 6-3 6-0 to win her first match in 13 years at the Foro Italico, sat down in chair and the emotion took over…

Medvedev’s entertaining Rome exit

You cannot argue that Daniil Medvedev is entertaining, he made friends a few years back in New York with the home crowd.

In Madrid he expressed his hatred and ‘love’, using the latter loosely and his time in Rome didn’t quite happen, I was expecting him to beat Karatsev but he did entertain with some comments during the match…

‘It’s the worst surface in the world for me but if you like to be in the dirt like a dog, I don’t judge” – At 2-6 3-4 down…

Moments later the Russian turned to the ATP supervisor Gerry Armstrong and said:

“Gerry, please default me, it would be better for everybody”

It did give his fellow Russian and friend, Andrey Rublev good entertainment in the crowd!

Murray and Broady team up in doubles!

This week we did see the return of Andy Murray to the clay in Rome. All noise led to the former champion just practicing on the dirt at the Foro Italico until an opportunity knocked, not in singles but in doubles.

A alternate spot came up in the draw and it was taken by the team of Andy Murray and Liam Broady.

The British pair were up against the Australian pair of Luke Saville and Max Purcell, the Brits were a set down but pulled through for their first win together to win 5-7 7-6 10-6.

Next up there met experienced doubles players John Peers and Michael Venus, mistakes on serve early in both sets cost the British pair who fell 1-6 6-7 to the Australian/American pairing.

Still, a good run out for both players!

image credit – LTA Twitter

Rafa’s third round revival and Denis’ slip up!

It is one of those matches that will be revisited in years to come, a limited but passionate crowd at Court Centrale saw one of the tournaments greatest comebacks from the greatest clay court player of all time, Rafael Nadal.

It was quite a comeback, we have seen Rafa pull off escapes before and credit to him for it.

3-6 0-3 down – survived.

3-6 6-4 1-3 down – survived.

Two match points down and he survived before going onto win the final set tie-break 7-3.

There have been plenty of questions over Rafael Nadal this clay season but that performance and the following one against Zverev were stunning from the second seed.

At the same time the slip-up from Denis is a big one, he recently turned 22 but has been struggling to find momentum lately, 11 wins and 10 defeats this year has proved problematic for the Canadian who was won 28 of his last 53.

He does play some beautiful tennis and is a joy to watch his game in action but it’s not coming together at the moment. 28 wins in 21 tournaments shows a big problem and is averaging 1.3 wins a tournament which is not good enough.

Kvitova, Muguruza & Kenin fell early on & Barty leaves with injury concerns.

I said it has been a far from ideal weeks preparation at Roland Garros for some of the best in women’s tennis and in the early rounds were saw some big names go out.

As well as Halep’s withdrawal and Osaka’s exit we have seen Kvitova and Muguruza who have been in good form exit early and Sofia Kenin struggle of late and this continued in Rome.

It will be a big ask for the latter two who have been in Parisian finals before to find their form in time for the second major of the year.

Kenin was runner-up last year in Paris but has struggled since then for form and is on a four match losing streak and has won just two of her last eight matches.

There are also some concerns for world number one Ash Barty, the Aussie who has been in exceptional form on the clay withdrew from a set up on Coco Gauff with an right arm problem, hopefully it is just a precaution!

Lorenzo’s late show pleases home crowd

A late Thursday night in Rome saw a home player take home the headlines following a stunning display.

The noise has been all about Berrettini, Sinner and Musetti who have in their own right been sensational lately but Lorenzo’s performance was outstanding.

Sonego did of course upset Djokovic in that wild match at the back end of last year but this was a closer affair against Dominic Thiem.

I didn’t expect Dominic Thiem to win the title this week but still another week to give an indicator of where he is at.

He played well but that sharpness in his game was missing. Lorenzo to his credit kept up with a high level of tennis coming from the racket of Thiem and played him at his own game. 

It was a late finish, a few watched the Italian survive a match point and come through a massive win on Centrale to continue his fantastic week which begun with a win over Monfils.

Simona retires with calf tear!

A sad story from Rome was seeing Simona Halep retire up a set against Angie Kerber.

Early on in the second set we saw the Romanian pull up and couldn’t continue. Halep needed helping off the court with Kerber and a physio helping her move.

It has since been confirmed that the former Roland Garros champion has a tear in her calf which really puts her Roland Garros participation in doubt.

There is not yet further news but with Roland Garros just over a week away we have seen Halep head home but will she be heading to Paris?

Pegula’s form continues with opening win over Osaka

Jessica Pegula’s run in Rome can’t to an end in the final eight but it got off to a very good start with her 5th top ten win of the year, this time against Naomi Osaka and her first on clay.

Naomi’s struggles on clay have been visible over the last few weeks and the American really stood tall in Rome to see off the world number two in what is turning out to be a phenomenal year.

Jess was ranked at 63 in the world back at the end of January and will now debut in the top 30 for the first time in her career and is set to be seeded at Roland Garros.

Amongst her big wins included three consecutive weeks of wins against Pliskova sandwiched between wins over Svitolina and this over Osaka.

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