Nishikori 4-6 6-2 6-1 Berdych – No one still knows what the hell happened!

I do hope we have all recovered now after that manic match. From the first few games to finally passing winner from Kei the match was a mess. I can’t still pull it all together. It has something that Sky Sports haven’t done a short highlight clip of the match like they have with others because where the hell would you begin?

It’s one of those matches where no one played well at all and big work needs to be done. I saw a tweet that said Kei Nishikori is back on track to his best and I thought did they watch the match?? If that is his best then there is work to do!

Tomas Berdych started the match the better of the two players he was aggressive with his serve and ground strokes as Kei struggled to get going with the Czech player taking a 4-1 lead. Once Kei found his feet in the set he did get back on serve at 4-5 and whilst serving to stay in the set he did get broken and Berdych took the set 6-4.

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After a couple of games in set two Kei called on the trainer a few times and was having issues with his right wrist and wasn’t gripping the racket comfortably and then capitulation happened, not from Nishikori but from Berdych.

Did he get carried away? I think so. I tweeted that I got sick of watching Berdych randomly come to the net at the wrong time and got passed time and time again it was poor from someone so experienced as himself.

Nishikori despite being bothered by this injury then went onto win the 11 of the next 12 games despite not looking comfortable but Berdych unravelled and began missing the court and it got messy.

This summed it up;

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Monte-Carlo 2018 Preview

It’s that time of year. The clay court season kicks off in the beautiful setting of Monte-Carlo. A club that has so much history and year on year the history books get bigger as the top names in men’s tennis descend into this corner of France as the road to Roland Garros begins.

So, where to begin with this draw?

Rafa

who else, where else? The defending champion will be the one they all want to beat. Up against a qualifier in round one the Spaniard has Thiem in his quarter and Goffin and Dimitrov in his half which are 3 of his biggest if not the biggest challenges to him on clay this spring. He looked sharp at Davis Cup but this will be a big test and potential a route to the final including Thiem, Djokovic, Goffin/Dimitrov and then Zverev/Cilic in the final.

Novak Djokovic

Well, Marian Vajda will be there. Looking on social media fans seem to thinking Vajda came out of the tennis school of Hogwarts and things will be rosy and as they were before back to winning ways but this road back is very long. I don’t honestly see Novak mounting a challenge past round two and that is me being honest. Novak seeded 9th doesn’t get a BYE as only top 8 do and has a qualifier in R1 followed by potentially a rejuvenated Borna Coric

Wildcards

Four wildcards go into the main draw and they include one for veteran Gilles Simon, youngster Felix Auger-Aliassame, a returning Thanasi Kokkinakis and a 21 year old Lucas Catarina ranked 365 in the world without a main-draw appearance on the tour this year and a win/loss record of 10-8 on challenger tour but the Monegasque is the latest player representing Monaco to be given a wildcard.

R1’s…

Some notable R1 matches to look out for;

Kokkinakis v Kachanov
Paire v Lopez
Edmund v Dolgopolov
Nishikori v Berdych

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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!

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.

Acapulco 2018 – who is taking home this years Sombrero?

Acapulco is a tournament that continues to grow on the tour. Once again it has attracted some of the biggest names in men’s tennis to the Mexican coast with some cracking round one matches in store as the fight begins for the Sombrero won last year by Sam Querrey.

Rafael Nadal v Feliciano Lopez

Two friends meet. Acapulco is a setting for a match up like this. Rafa will be looking to find form again ahead of a busy few months on the tour and Feliciano will prove a tough test. He will come and play his game and that’s what I like, sometimes it can go a little bit wrong but he’s an entertainer and a big talent in the sport. It’s important for Rafa to do well here, it won’t be easy but the conditions will help for Indian Wells.

Andrey Rublev v David Ferrer

Rublev did a great job in Melbourne defeating Ferrer in 5 sets. The Russian is strong off ground strokes and has a good serve but he has shown as well he has a spring in his movement which you have to have to see off David in 5 sets in Melbourne heat. Ferrer will put up a challenge which is in his character and you will never take that away it is just a shame the ranking has taken a hit these last 12 months or so!

Denis Shapovalov v Kei Nishikori

I’m surprised Kei is playing her in all honesty. I would have expected the return to the tour to be more stretched out. He has played a lot of tennis this month so a steady build up to Indian Wells and Miami is key I’m not sure Acapulco is the place to be ready for him especially against Denis. The Canadian will bring excitement and speed to the court which Kei hasn’t come up against yet in his return to the tour and Denis will test him in what could be a short trip for Kei!

Kei’s back, Azarenka’s almost back, Serena back at Fed Cup and Bernard Tomic lasted 4 days on ImACeleb

Kei Nishikori returns

Kei Nishikori is back on the tour. The former US Open finalist was in action last week but lost his first round match but has now sealed his first win on the tour in Dallas at an ATP challenger event as he aims to build up match practice before heading back out on the main tour and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes things slow until Miami and Indian Wells.

Azarenka in Qatar?

After being given wildcards in Auckland and Melbourne but unable to play due to the on-going custody battle. She has been rewarded a wildcard into Doha which begins in a weeks time. Under the current custody battle her son Leo cannot leave California hence why Vika has not been playing around the world so we will have to wait and see.

Serena in Fed Cup action!

In just over a weeks time the Fed Cup returns and sooner than anticipated Serena Williams will be playing in Fed Cup alongside sister Venus it has been announced against the Netherlands. This will be the first time since 2014 Serena has played in Fed Cup her first competitive tennis match since winning the Australian Open

Tomic lasts 4 days on ImACeleb

In the Australian version of the hit television program set in the Kruger National Park in South Africa Australian tennis player Bernard Tomic who’s career has been full of controversy on and off the court and his ranking detoriating has last 4 days before becoming the first player in the shows history to quit. The former Wimbledon quarterfinalist was not rewarded with a wildcard into the Australian Open by Tennis Australia so opted to play in qualifying but in defeat told reporters “I’m going to go and count my millions”

As he left the jungle he said “I have to take it on the chest like a man and get back to training”

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We will wait and see what happens. Bernard is currently ranked at 168 in the world and to be honest tournaments won’t be tripping over themselves to hand out wildcards if they do they need to think again!

Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori out of Australian Open

In the last 12 hours Andy Murray and first Kei Nishikori have withdrawn from the opening slam of the year.

There has been expectancy on the Japanese number one for quite some time to withdraw from the tournament having pulled out of Brisbane this week and also travelling to America to train at the IMG academy instead of fly to Melbourne but he did announce last night that he isn’t fit enough to compete in a best of 5 se t match.

Andy Murray put a very emotional message on Instagram the other day after his withdrawal from Brisbane saying all he wants to do is play again and it is sad to see someone who loves the sport unable to play it. Murray has now left Melbourne and is on route back to London where he will consider all options including surgery but there cannot be any guarantees.

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