Madrid Madness! Del Po stunned, Sharapova + Halep out, Thiem announces himself and business as usual for No.1

Well, Wednesday has proved a manic day in Madrid. As the week goes on the draw shortens and nothing like it has done today with big names out, future stars shining and the usual suspects up to their tricks!

Thiem has announced himself!

Dominic Thiem had to do it this week, no excuses. He has now set up a meeting with Nadal and it will be a good marker to see how far he is away from Rafa as right now he is his biggest challenger on this surface.

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Down a set and a break with Coric serving for the match the Austrian produced some inspired and hard fought tennis something we haven’t seen as he continues to return from this ankle injury a few months back but it was there and with the win announced his arrival on the clay court season.

Del Po out!

Usually he is the man you can rely on in tight situations and when he found himself 4-0 up in the third set tie-breaker that did look like that however Lajovic who deserves a lot of credit won 7 of the next 8 points to secure the biggest win of his career.

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You can see from the graphic from when he took set two that he stepped up his performance by retreating behind the baseline further and soaking up the pressure of Del Potro’s ground strokes, as they say sometimes the best attack is defence and it proved for the Serb.

Halep and Sharapova out!

Well this was a surprise.

Karolina Pliskova is surprising us all on the clay courts winning once again…  with her title in Stuttgart and what she has done so far this week in Madrid against Halep as well has thrown her name into a hat of Roland Garros contenders as she looks like she’s playing without pressure.

Sharapova is out. I’m not terribly surprised, she had a good week with a couple of decent wins but Kiki Bertens is a pain to play against, she hangs on in there and just goes for it and credit to her for wins over Sharapova and Wozniacki this week.

50!

Rafael Nadal doesn’t usually sit at the bottom of a piece I write but save the best to last. 50 consecutive sets of tennis won on a single surface, absolutely magnificent! A new record taking over John McEnroe’s 49 on carpet.

 

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All smiles! Del Potro secures 13th consecutive win with demolition of Nishikori!

Juan Martin Del Potro is a man in form. The Argentine is on a 13 match winning streak which includes his first Masters 1000 title at Indian Wells last week and his performance against a below-par Kei Nishikori this even has fully put his name in winners circle once again.

Del Potro was quick out of the blocks, there was no messing about or let off by the Argentine who served big and found his feet pretty quickly as he continued his great form to see off Nishikori 6-2 6-2.

Kei didn’t look sharp at all, he looked lost and dis-spirited quite quickly as his body language showed in what was a match too soon for him and is now expected not to return until Madrid in the first week of May which probably is for the best to prepare properly for the clay court season.

Despite 6-2 6-2 I wouldn’t say Del Po was at his best and he didn’t need to be and it’s not a bad thing as bigger challenges will come as the tournament progresses.

The form he is in right now does set up nicely going forward no matter what happens during the rest of this tournament. Del Potro never plays a full clay court season and he wants to stay fit for the year so I’d expect a couple of Masters before Roland Garros but now focus on the now as he aims to be the 8th man to complete the sunshine double in the same year.

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All smiles from Del Po!

Nothing wrong with being predictable when you are that good!

Juan Martin Del Porto is one of the tours most talented players. He has never failed to produce and perform on the biggest stages and there is a predictability about his game but it isn’t a bad thing at all.

I always say players need to be less predictable and I stand by that, some are predictable and not effective but there are a small minority of players that have predictable game plans but it’s difficult to stop.

We know the forehand is the shot of Del Potro’s but the backhand has been effective despite being predictable.

You can see this graphic shows the backhand placement of Del Porto. During the rallies he goes down the line and rarely gets a winner but as you can see 14% of the time he goes down the line and 50% of them are winners.

The forehand sets this up for him, it’s such a flat shot with depth and spin on it you can rarely defend effectively against it. He throws them down over 95mph giving you no time to react or adjust.

Simple but effective, even during his spell away from tennis due to those horrible wrist injuries he’s come back and is playing that game again which is a credit to how good he is as I’ve said time and time again tennis moves on and you have to catch up but some are just that good and Juan is one of them!

Back in the big time! Del Potro takes Indian Wells!

The tower always delivers. Going into Indian Wells I said it felt like he was coming into some good form but even I didn’t expect him to walk away with the title but I couldn’t be happier.

He saw off so many different styles of tennis from De Minaur, Ferrer, Mayer, Kohlschreiber, Raonic and then of course in the final Roger Federer.

Del Potro is the definition of never giving up. Back in 2009 he had his night in New York winning the US Open but this feels a little sweeter. Obviously the achievement of winning New York is a career high but after what he has been through how he built himself up after countless wrist operations and years away from tennis is a credit to him and his dedication.

When Del Potro returned to tennis it was fantastic but realistically none of us thought that he’d get back to the level he was once at, he’s the world number 6 and on form this season easily second/third behind Federer.

His performances throughout the fortnight were fantastic and the way he delivered in the final was stunning. He didn’t show too much emotion in the match, he was calm even being three match points down in the final set! When he trawled back two match points in a row there just wasn’t a reaction but once he got to that finish line relief for the man who has fought so hard and deserves this moment!

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The gentle giant sends out a emphatic reminder ahead of the sunshine double!

The men’s field in particular at Indian Wells isn’t very strong. With Nadal, Wawrinka and Murray missing and concerns over the form and preparation of other top stars one gentle giant has sent out a gentle reminder that he will be at Indian Wells and Miami to compete.

This week in Acapulco was by far one of the best since his injury nightmare. This is his biggest title since Basel 2013 winning the ATP500 in Acapulco  During this week he didn’t drop a set and when you think he had to defeat;

Mischa Zverev
David Ferrer
Dominic Thiem
Alex Zverev
Kevin Anderson

on route to this win is a magnificent achievement. Three top 10 wins in a week and also a win against a seasoned veteran in David Ferrer makes it a very successful likewise as well for Kevin Anderson who has been so good this season continuing his form from last year.

Del Potro knows what it takes to go deep at Indian Wells with two quarter finals, a semi-final and a final under his belt is another long week in desert on course for the Argentine?

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Who if anyone can stop this man at Indian Wells?

Whilst we freeze in Britain the top players on the ATP tour are heading off to the Californian desert of Indian Wells as the first Masters 1000 of the year is here but who if anyone can stop Roger Federer.

Roger the favourite?

Of course he is. No one has been to more finals than Roger at Indian Wells winning 5 of the 7 he has played losing just to Novak Djokovic but of course Roger is the defending champion here.

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Who is missing?

Well, where do we begin? The ATP tour is like an episode of casualty at the moment with many missing but who won’t be there?

Wawrinka
Tsonga
Gasquet
Murray
Raonic

Will they? Won’t they?

Kei Nishikori, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are all down to play but have been having issues themselves.

Kei has returned but isn’t near match fitness to make him a contender here at all.

Djokovic hasn’t played since Melbourne so how fit and ready is his elbow?

Nadal once again either retired or withdrew from a tournament. He cited a sharp pain in his leg, the same that what made him withdraw from the Australian Open. Nadal has now withdrawn from his last four tournaments.

The Contenders?

So, who could make a name at Indian Wells?

Marin Cilic – Under-rated as the world number three. He did well in Melbourne making the final and is good at taking an opportunity when presented to him so I wouldn’t rule out a deep run here.

Grigor Dimitrov – Hasn’t really happened for him this season. His game has taken a dip since winning at the O2 especially his second serve which has taken a beating this year and in a word was awful against Jaziri in Dubai.

Alex Zverev – It hasn’t happened for him yet this year. He’s lost a lot of matches of late which you would put in the category of ‘should win’. Watching him a bit this year he does seem to be labouring through matches and those big performances haven’t resurfaced yet this year.

Dominic Thiem – Unpredictable and not in a good way! You never know what you will get from him. It’s been up and down for too long. I wouldn’t be too shocked on early exits, clay is where he should burst into life!

David Goffin – Dangerous player. Like to see him grab the chance by the neck if it were to come around. Not playing this week which is a smart move and of course had that freak eye injury a couple of weeks back so hopefully he will be back and ready!

Juan Martin Del Potro – I just have this feeling Juan Martin could be one the watch. He is a player for the big stage so I wouldn’t rule him out here especially with soo uncertainties about players.

The big man misses out at the final hurdle!

He makes the impossible happen but this time for Juan Martin Del Potro the dream is over. The Argentine had a chance to qualify for London but it was an outside chance but after a few very good months of tennis a win today against John Isner would have sealed a place at the O2.

The American took the first set 6-4 breaking at the death of the set and the second set was sealed in a tie-break with Isner double faulting down set point and then in set three both were obviously tired but the early break sealed the deal for the American who could make London but for Juan Martin unfortunately it’s over!

The tennis world wanted it to happen and at the end there was a collective unhappy face sweeping across Twitter but also a congratulations on an incredible unexpected and magnificent season for the Argentine who always delivers!

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