July 30, 2015

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova Upset in Madrid Open Semis

Serena shrugs

(May 8, 2015) Top seed Serena Williams lost her first match of 2015, falling to two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semifinals of the Madrid Open on Friday 6-2, 6-3. Earlier in the day, defending champion Maria Sharapova was ousted by Russian countrywoman Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 6-4.

For the Czech Kvitova, it was her first win over the 19-time major champion. “For sure I’m happy I won today,” Kvitova said in her on-court interview. “I had never beaten her, so it’s a really special moment for me.”

“I think she just played well today,” Williams said. “I mean, she went for broke on every serve, every return. I hit some second serves, 170, 175, and she just hit them for winners. I was very slow off the mark. After my serve I wasn’t moving as well as I should have. You know, I wasn’t in it.

“I wasn’t Serena today. I think that was the main thing.”

The loss ended her 27-match unbeaten streak dating back to 2014. “I’m just exhausted today,” Williams said.

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

For Kuznetsova it’s the first time in seven years that she beat Sharapova. “I’m just happy to be in the final,” said Kuznetsova,

“Today she had much more pop on her ball than I did, while I felt my shots were a bit too flat,” Sharapova said. ”

On the men’s side, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori reached the men’s semifinals

Defending Madrid Open champion Nadal beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-4. Berdych defeated John Isner, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (1).

“It’s great news to be in the semifinals, it’s a very positive result for me,” Nadal said. “I am pleased with the way I played this afternoon, very happy.”

“Very happy about the way things have worked out. I passed a test that was really important for me.”


WTA Singles – Semifinals

[4] P. Kvitova (CZE) d [1] S. Williams (USA) 62 63
S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [3] M. Sharapova (RUS) 62 64

WTA Doubles – Semifinals

[3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE) 61 36 10-6
C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) d [7] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) 75 36 10-7

ATP Singles – Quarter-Finals
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [5] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 75
[3] R. Nadal (ESP) d [10] G. Dimitrov (BUL) 63 64
[4] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [7] D. Ferrer (ESP) 64 62
[6] T. Berdych (CZE) d [16] J. Isner (USA) 36 76(7) 76(1) – saved 1 M.P.

ATP Doubles – Quarter-Finals

[6] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP) d [3] V. Pospisil (CAN) / J. Sock (USA) 26 01 ret. (Pospisil – Ankle Sprain)
[5] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) d M. Cilic (CRO) / V. Troicki (SRB) 64 67(4) 13-11
R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) d J. Cabal (COL) / A. Mannarino (FRA) 63 62
[WC] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) d J. Murray (GBR) / J. Peers (AUS) 64 67(1) 10-4


MANOLO SANTANA Start Not Before 3:00 pm
ATP – [6] T. Berdych (CZE) vs [3] R. Nadal (ESP)
Not Before 5:30 pm
WTA – Singles Final – [4] P. Kvitova (CZE) vs S. Kuznetsova (RUS)
Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [4] K. Nishikori (JPN) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)
WTA – Doubles Final – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) vs [6] M. Granollers (ESP) / M. Lopez (ESP)
ATP – [5] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB) vs [WC] F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Mirnyi (BLR)


Halep, Bouchard and Venus Williams Fall in Madrid


madrid logo

(May 3, 2015) Seeds (2) Simona Halep, (6) Eugenie Bouchard and (16) Venus Williams lost in the opening round matches of the Madrid Open on Sunday.

The Romanian Halep, the biggest casualty of the day failed to take advantage of two set points in the first set before falling 7-6 (6), 6-3 to Alize Cornet of France.

It was business as usually for No. 1 Serena Williams, who only dropped one game in her match against Madison Brengle while defending champion defending champion Maria Sharapova advanced after stopping Timea Bacsinszky 6-2, 6-3.

Williams will take on Sloane Stephens, and Sharapova face qualifier Colombian Mariana Duque Marino.

“I don’t think I’ve played her on clay yet,” Williams said about Stephens. “We had a really tough three-set match the last time we played. She’s playing really well. She’s moving well and is having a better year this year. I think she’s kind of flying under the radar.”

Sister Venus Williams, lost Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5.

Venus Williams, seeded 16th, went up a break at 4-3 in the second set, only for Azarenka to win four of the next five games.

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic rallied from a 6-0, 3-0 deficit against Bouchard, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3, while former US Open champion Samantha Stosur served 14 aces to upset 12th seed Angelique Kerber, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. It’s Bouchard’s sixth straight loss.



MANOLO SANTANA start 11:00 am
WTA – S. Kuznetsova (RUS) vs G. Muguruza (ESP)
WTA – [5] C. Wozniacki (DEN) vs [Q] C. Mchale (USA)
Not Before 3:15 pm
ATP – B. Becker (GER) vs [11] F. Lopez (ESP)
ATP – F. Fognini (ITA) vs S. Giraldo (COL)
Not Before 8:00 pm
WTA – [1] S. Williams (USA) vs S. Stephens (USA)
Not Before 9:30 pm
ATP – J. Vesely (CZE) vs [9] M. Cilic (CRO)

WTA – C. Dellacqua (AUS) vs [9] A. Radwanska (POL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – A. Mannarino (FRA) vs [16] J. Isner (USA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – R. Vinci (ITA) vs A. Cornet (FRA)
WTA – [11] A. Petkovic (GER) vs I. Begu (ROU)
ATP – J. Chardy (FRA) vs [Q] T. Bellucci (BRA)
ATP – E. Gulbis (LAT) vs D. Goffin (BEL)

STADIUM 3 start 11:00 am
WTA – [13] L. Safarova (CZE) vs T. Pironkova (BUL)
Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – S. Querrey (USA) vs [Q] T. Kokkinakis (AUS)
ATP – [Q] A. Gonzalez (COL) vs S. Johnson (USA)
ATP – J. Janowicz (POL) vs [LL] J. Sousa (POR)
ATP – B. Tomic (AUS) vs [Q] L. Vanni (ITA)

COURT 4 start 11:00 am
WTA – D. Jurak (CRO) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [WC] V. Dushevina (RUS) / M. Martínez Sánchez (ESP)
WTA – K. Kanepi (EST) vs S. Stosur (AUS)
WTA – A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs K. Mladenovic (FRA) / K. Pliskova (CZE)
WTA – After rest – A. Groenefeld (GER) / A. Panova (RUS) vs [3] G. Muguruza (ESP) / C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)
ATP – R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) vs M. Draganja (CRO) / H. Kontinen (FIN)

COURT 5 start 11:00 am
WTA – M. Krajicek (NED) / B. Strycova (CZE) vs [PR] J. Husarova (SVK) / I. Olaru (ROU)
Not Before 2:00 pm
WTA – [WC] M. Keys (USA) / L. Raymond (USA) vs M. Erakovic (NZL) / J. Goerges (GER)
WTA – After rest – C. Dellacqua (AUS) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ) vs [6] C. Garcia (FRA) / K. Srebotnik (SLO)
WTA – TBA – [8] A. Hlavackova (CZE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) vs . Alternate / Unknown

COURT 6 start 12:30 pm
WTA – [5] R. Kops-Jones (USA) / A. Spears (USA) vs Z. Diyas (KAZ) / S. Peng (CHN)
WTA – After rest – J. Gajdosova (AUS) / A. Tomljanovic (CRO) vs [7] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE)
WTA – A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) / A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs S. Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / M. Torró-Flor (ESP)



Final 2013 Madrid Open Results

madrid logo

Madrid, Spain
May 4-12, 2013
Red Clay/Outdoors

Results – Sunday, May 12, 2013
Women’s Singles – Final
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 61 64

Women’s Doubles – Final (May 11th)
Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) 62 64

Men’s Singles – Final
[5] R Nadal (ESP) d [15] S Wawrinka (SUI) 62 64

Men’s Doubles – Final
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d [7] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) 62 63


Quotable Quotes: Serena, Sharapova, Nadal and Berdych March On

Bank of the West semifinals (20 of 1)

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 10, 2013) Madrid – First to book her place in the final four was Serena Williams, but it wasn’t in the manner expected. The tournament and majority of onlookers had firmly resigned themselves to a routine straight-setter to the expense of their home favorite. Early on, it appeared Williams was well on her way to a routine victory as she secured the first set 6-3. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the American could be found struggling to serve over 90 mph and direct the ball between the white lines as all chances of a routine victory were killed spectacularly.

After the disastrous second set, Williams spent only a quarter of the allotted time in her chair, instead deciding to rise from her chair early in in order to do squats and stretches net to her chair. It’s not something Williams has ever done before, but it worked as, with a renewed intercity – and grunt – she eventually toughed out a tight victory.

“I felt just kind of ‑‑ I don’t know. I wasn’t really there. I wasn’t really in it. My feet weren’t moving. I don’t know what happened,” she said afterwards.

To turn it around I got up earlier on the changeover and started doing high knees and just stretching and doing anything to try to get my intensity back up where it needed to be.”

Sharapova 2

In stark contrast to the world No. 1, Maria Sharapova’s 6-2 6-4 victory over Kaia Kanepi was memorable for only two reasons. Firstly because the Russian extended her red clay winning streak to a monumental 24 wins. Secondly, thanks to the mischievous message the Russian left when signing the camera after her victory. In reference to paparazzi capturing her with her boyfriend, Grigor Dimitrov, early in the week, the 26 year-old wrote “how did you catch us???”

During her news conference afterwards, there was much laughter during the Russian’s exchanges with Tennis Panorama.


Tennis Panorama News: So, the writing on the camera, I wonder what that was about?

Maria Sharapova: (with head in hands) I don’t know. You tell me. (Laughter.)


TPN: Ok, serious question. (Laughter.) I’m sure you’re sick of answering questions about how you’re good on clay, but when you were younger…

MS: I never thought that day would come. (Laughter.) Where’s my trophy?

TPN: When you were younger you came on the tour and played well on grass and were really good on grass and not as good on clay. Now it’s kind of switched around: You’re great on clay and your grass results haven’t been as great recently, aside from reaching…silver medal.

MS: Aside from the final a couple years ago and the silver medal last year. No biggie. For some people that’s a pretty good achievement.

TPN: OK, OK! (laughter.)

MS: (laughing.) Obviously it’s funny when people talk to me it’s like, ah, that’s not really a great result. I’m like, I don’t know. Thinking about that on surgery table, I’ll take that any time of the day. You have to be pretty realistic and fortunate. And yes, I lost in the fourth round, and two weeks later I came back at Wimbledon and got to the finals. So that was a great, great week for me.

Yeah, I definitely have improved my game on clay and improved myself physically. I also think the grass has changed over the years tremendously. The clay has pretty much stayed the same. But it’s not like I woke up one day and said, Yeah, I’m just going to get better and tomorrow I’m going to be better on clay. Instead it took many years and many matches and many practices. And mentally as well just to get myself prepared for long matches and battles and get through them.”

More notably, Sharapova had much to say about the recent prize money issues and the five-hout meeting that took place during the Istanbul WTA Championshps last year. There is a misconception that only the male players contributed to the monumental prize money changes that have occurred in all Grand Slams this year, but the champion rebuffed the notion with some interesting information.


“I remember sitting ‑‑ we had like a five‑hour meeting the day before the first round of Istanbul last year, the Championships. I don’t think one player in that meeting was really happy about the timing.”

“I will say that every tournament director and a couple of their staff made their way. Craig Tiley flew all the way from Australia just for that meeting. We sat there and they presented kind of their future prize money ideas.”



The men were next. After an embarrassing performance in the Acapulco final which saw the world No. 4 capture only two games against a returning Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer brushed off the embarrassment and played calm, aggressive tennis to establish a lead over the King of Clay. An early 4-1 lead in the first set fast became a set lead, and before long the set lead was complimented with a second set break.

Still, at a set and 4-2 many still expected the champion to triumph and as Nadal charged back to steal three games in a row and serve for the set, not many were surprised. The pendulum swung again, however, with Ferrer showing an abundance of typical resilience to capitalize on a few thoughtless unforced errors. By the time the pair next sat down, Ferrer was a game away from the big win.

Three points later, it happened. With the score at 6-4 6-5* 15-30 to the underdog, Ferrer contested seemingly the perfect point, dragging the champion from tramline to tramline and exposing his hampered movement. After having his way with Nadal for a series of shots, the elder Spaniard was finally presented with an open court forehand to catapult him to double match point. Instead, he opted to hit the ball straight to Nadal, who pulled out a spectacular defensive lob to win the point. From that tragically missed opportunity, Ferrer failed to win a single game for the remainder of the match.

After the defeat, Ferrer had some interesting things to say about his mentality and outlook, which perhaps explains why he so seldom emerges victorious over the four players above him.

Q. Rafa said that you deserved to be in the semis. Do you think that is a smaller gap with the top 4, or do you think they’re too good and when you reach the moment of truth they have got a little extra?

David Ferrer: Sincerely, I don’t care. I think they’re really good. I’ve always said that. They’re the four best players of the world. They make the difference compared to the other players.

I always talk about the same thing. Berdych, Tsonga, Del Potro, they all come like airplanes. Now Dimitrov and Wawrinka and Almagro too are pushing really hard.

With the amount of good players we’ve got down there, I’m not thinking about getting up there with the top 4. It’s really complicated.



Finally, after his impressive victory over Andy Murray, Tomas Berdych displayed some of his polarizing confidence as he amusingly tipped himself to win a Grand Slam

TPN: As you said before, your level doesn’t seem to change depending on the surface. You’re one of the few players. Even the big four have their favorite surfaces. What is your favorite surface?

Tomas Berdych: Well, it’s really tough to say. I can find good results on the grass, on the hard, and on clay as well.

So, you know, probably when I’m going to reach my first slam, then we going to see which surface is that going to be. (laughter) Then I can point this is the one that is the really on top, and then we don’t have to talk about the others.

So far, there is only the final and then the rest with some semifinals, so it’s not enough. Really, I want to do more. Then I can I tell you the one.

Tumaini Carayol is in Madrid covering the Madrid Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on @TennisNewsTPN and his personal twitter @TumCarayol.


Nishikori Upsets Federer; Nadal, Murray Move on in Madrid


(May 9, 2013) The new red clay of Madrid claimed another seeded casualty on Thursday when No. 2 Roger Federer was upset by Kei Nishikori  6-4, 1-6, 6-2 in the third round of the Madrid Open. Top seed Novak Djokovic was ousted on Tuesday.

No. 3 seed Andy Murray escaped Gilles Simon 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (6),  while No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal had an easy time with Mikhail Youzhny 6-2, 6-3.

A poor serving game by Federer gave Nishikori the first set.  In the second set Federer grabbed the momentum but lost it in third.

As for Nishikori, it was a fourth win over a top 5 player for the man from Japan. “He was my idol and to beat him was one of the goals for my tennis career,” said the world No. 16. “Beating Roger is, yeah … I need a couple of days to celebrate.”

“He was the better player today for sure, Federer said. “I was lacking control from the baseline, and that pretty much carried through from start to finish, Overall I’m disappointed with my play,” Federer said of the match.

“I’m not sure how well Kei thought he played. I didn’t think he had to play his very best either, which is even more disappointing”

“Clearly the favorite for this tournament is Nadal,” Federer said.

Nishikori will next play Pablo Andujar for a place in the semifinals.

Madrid, Spain
May 4-12, 2013
Red Clay/Outdoors

Results – Thursday, May 9, 2013
Women’sSingles – Third Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (13) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 63 61
(2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Sabine Lisicki (GER) 62 75
(7) Sara Errani (ITA) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 75 63
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. (14) Marion Bartoli (FRA) 63 62
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. (WC) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 64

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
Mladenovic/Voskoboeva (FRA/KAZ) d. (3) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) 64 62
(WC) Soler-Espinosa/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. (4) Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) 46 62 104 (Match TB)
Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) d. Kuznetsova/Pennetta (RUS/ITA) 46 61 105 (Match TB)
Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Husarova/Lisicki (SVK/GER) 62 36 107 (Match TB)

Men’s Singles – Third Round
[14] K Nishikori (JPN) d [2] R Federer (SUI) 64 16 62
[3] A Murray (GBR) d [16] G Simon (FRA) 26 64 76(6)
[4] D Ferrer (ESP) d [13] T Haas (GER) 75 46 64
[5] R Nadal (ESP) d M Youzhny (RUS) 62 63
[6] T Berdych (CZE) d K Anderson (RSA) 76(5) 75
[7] J Tsonga (FRA) d F Verdasco (ESP) 46 63 62
[15] S Wawrinka (SUI) d G Dimitrov (BUL) 36 64 61
[WC] P Andujar (ESP) d D Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 55 ret. (right leg)

Men’s Doubles – Second Round
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d J Isner (USA) / S Querrey (USA) 76(6) 75
D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d [2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) 76(4) 63
[6] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND) d [Alt] J Monaco (ARG) / H Zeballos (ARG) 63 36 10-5
[7] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 64 60
T Haas (GER) / R Stepanek (CZE) d [8] J Melzer (AUT) / L Paes (IND) 75 61

Order Of Play – Friday, May 10, 2013

MANOLO SANTANA start 10:50 am
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [WC] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) – WTA
K Kanepi (EST) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 3:15 PM
[5] R Nadal (ESP) vs [4] D Ferrer (ESP) – ATP
[WC] P Andujar (ESP) vs [14] K Nishikori (JPN) – ATP
Not Before 8:00 PM
[3] A Murray (GBR) vs [6] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
[15] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [7] J Tsonga (FRA) – ATP

C Black (ZIM) / M Erakovic (NZL) vs [WC] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
E Makarova (RUS) vs [7] S Errani (ITA) – WTA
[6] A Kerber (GER) vs [16] A Ivanovic (SRB) – WTA
[5] M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) vs D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – ATP

STADIUM 3 start 2:00 pm
J Chardy (FRA) / L Kubot (POL) vs [6] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Bopanna (IND) – ATP
[7] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs [3] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
K Mladenovic (FRA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / L Safarova (CZE) – WTA
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs T Haas (GER) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP


Robson Upsets Radwanska in Madrid

LauraRobson for Wilson

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 6, 2013) Though the smell of sun lotion still lingered permanently in the air, by the time Laura Robson and Agnieszka Radwanska shuffled onto the third biggest court in the Caja Magica, the sun that earlier shone down furiously over the stadium had long since departed. Replacing the impossible shadows it created was a level shade as visibility reached 20/20 for the first time all day.


Since the Australian Open, Robson had managed only two victories in her previous nine WTA matches. Her game appeared to collapse, playing to the level of lower-ranked opponents she should beat. So when Laura Robson and Agnieszka Radwanska were paired together, though their names appeared an interesting match on paper, the idea that the Brit would actually win on clay seemed impossible.


Despite that, as Robson stepped up to the baseline the very first time, something had changed. From the very first point – a well-struck first serve followed by an irreverent forehand down-the-line winner – she appeared cool and confident, a deadly combination. That point would set the tone for the remainder of the match as the following games showcased Robson at her ball-striking best. There is a tendency for people to make rash comparisons with Robson’s fellow big-hitting lefty Petra Kvitova, but whilst the Czech also combines great technique and clean shotmaking, Robson’s aggression is a product of her perfect timing as opposed to the brutal natural power Kvitova wields.


Still, the fourth seed initially held resolute on her opening service games, forcing return errors and refusing to relinquish the parity that graced the first six games. However, as Robson slowly began to find her range on her return of serve – particularly her angled crosscourt backhand return – the match brisquely cracked open.


At 4-3, Robson charged. During the prior game, Robson had quite literally charged down a deft lob from Radwanska, spectacularly turning the point on its head with defense that was unimaginable a year earlier. She carried this momentum into the following game and, after brushing aside a number of Radwanska game points, she was offered her first break point. Only a routine second serve forehand return stood between the Brit’s forehand flew long. However, presented with an identical forehand on her second set points moments later, Robson showed great maturity to simply put the return back into play. Radwanska’s forehand crashed straight into the net and she had her first game.


With the remaining shackles released, Robson refused to look back as she held her serve to love, sealing the set with a laughably composed ad-court serve out wide followed by a simple forehand winner to the opposite corner. Only one game was lost in the second set as she powered to the biggest victory of her career, demolishing the fourth best player in the world on her worst surface.


In essence, the Brit moved in perfect unison with the stadium as, in the cool shade of zero pressure, she shone once again.


Djokovic, Federer and Nadal Meet the Press in Madrid

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 5, 2013) MADRID – As the Madrid Open sprang rapidly into action, the press room experienced a rush as the three greatest male players of the generation descended one-by-one into the spotlight as the revolving door of matches punctuated the first Sunday’s play.


Arriving first was the home and tournament favorite, Rafael Nadal. A year ago, the Spanish champion met his clay-court nadir as the slippery blue experiment left the No. 1 in a red fury. Against countryman Fernando Verdasco in the last 16, the champion’s game deserted him as, from 5-2 up in the third set, the Spaniard inexplicably found himself unable to guide even the tamest of strokes between the white lines. A landslide of 5 lost games in succession followed, as one of the most shocking capitulations in recent times was completed and Nadal was booted out of his home tournament..


A year, a French Open title, a long layoff, a triumphant return, and – vitally – a surface change later, such demons appeared long gone as the champion fielded questions exclusively in Spanish. During his first practice on the new surface, the French Open champion could be seen positively discussing the change of surface with fellow player Kevin Anderson, and it was reflected in his comments today.


“The courts this year fortunately are really good. I think they are great. The only thing I can say is thank you to the tournament, you know, for the money that they have invested to have the highest quality courts in here.


“I think that obviously the court last year was not up to the level that we needed. It was not prepared to be a competitive court.


“But the courts are impressive this year. Obviously the courts of the year before were better than the courts of last year, but they were not really great.

Federer 3

Roger Federer

Roger Federer followed. After a stuttering start to 2013, his lengthy and much-discussed short hiatus from tennis was a notable discussion point and has been subject to much apprehension However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion was quick to play down any ill-effects his break may have caused, instead stressing the positive effects of his break.


“Just been home and practicing hard as I was hoping to. I feel good now, you know. Took me a little time to get over my back issue from Indian Wells. But at the same time, that collided with my vacation anyway, which was okay.


“So I didn’t lose much time there. Now I feel good. Obviously extremely excited being back on tour. Sort of entering all the tournaments from here through to the US Open really, so it’s going to be a long stretch. You want to be ready for it. I’m very excited, which is a good thing


Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

Next came Novak Djokovic, who himself felt a victim to last year’s blue debacle. During his ten-minute conference, the Serb tackled a multitude of subjects, but it was his impromptu grand speech after being asked about Wimbledon’s dramatic increase in prize money that stole the day of interviews.


“Let me remind you there is not only ten players in the world,” he announced, scanning the room confidently. “There are thousands and thousands of players that are trying to participate in Grand Slams.


“Also let me remind you for a player who’s ranked over 100 in a world who plays qualifications and has to travel to Australia, he’s not able to cover his expenses of the travel, hotel, play the tournament, stay there for a few weeks, and to have a coach.


“So he has to choose between something. I think the people are taking that for granted a little bit. I am aware of the fact that the top players are earning big money; there is no question about that. This is not about top players. It’s about all the players, especially the ones who are lower ranked and struggling to have a decent life and also play all the biggest tournaments in the world.

“Grand Slams are the biggest, most prestigious, respectful events we have in tennis with the longest tradition. We definitely are thankful and we salute the decision of the increase of prize money from all four Grand Slams.”


“It’s a positive step, because players are also the ones who are bringing a lot of benefits to the Grand Slam. This kind of correlation and collaboration should be mutual, both ways.


“So we’re moving in the right direction. I believe that now many players are happy with the decisions that were made this year.”


And with that, the World No. 1 left the room. The time for talking was finally over – it was time to play.


Tumaini Carayol is in Madrid covering the Madrid tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.



Venus Williams Withdraws from Madrid Open


(May 5, 2013) Venus Williams has withdrawn from the Madrid Open due to a back problem.

“I was looking forward to playing at the Mutua Madrid Open this year, but unfortunately my back is hurting and I am not able to compete,” Venus Williams said in a statement. “Thank you to all my fans for the support and I look forward to returning next year. I will keep working hard to return as soon as possible.”

Venus Williams was replaced in the draw by Stefanie Voegele.

Tamira Paszek has also pulled out of Madrid with a respiratory infection. Lucky loser Madison Keys will take her place.


Before the Curtain Rises on the Madrid Open Sharapova, Azarenka and Li Na Meet The Press


Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 3, 2013) MADRID – In grand pursuit of their fabled holy grail – an extension to a two week event that would mark it a true equal of the Miami and Indian Wells events – the organizers of the Madrid Open have pushed the boundaries as far as they can stretch. The event is exclusively advertised as a ten-day tournament, beginning on the Friday and flowing into a second Sunday.


Not many fans responded on Friday, but at a tournament where the majority of televised matches paint a picture of an empty event unable to attract much interest in one of the most notable cities in the world, the presence of any single fan delighting in a qualifying match between 90-something-ranked female players is perhaps cause for celebration.


The lack of action around the grounds was mirrored behind the scenes as Victoria Azarenka fielded questions to a four-fifths empty media centre. Even during the peak days of the biggest tournaments, this is standard fare for the former world number one who continues in her epic age-old struggle to win over the press, but it was a pitiful showing regardless. Still, the Belarusian arrived with a spring in her step as she fielded questions ahead of her first full tournament since February.

“I feel good,” she said. “I’m really glad to be back playing, and can’t wait to start the tournament and see where my game is at. You know, it’s a very good place to start. It’s a very competitive field right away, so I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s a great preparation for the French Open.”

Maria Sharapova with media

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova followed almost immediately afterwards. In stark contrast to her rival, the Russian is considerably easier to crack open. After being asked by Tennis Panorama about her brief trip back to the Motherland, the world number two smiled and positively gushed in reply

“It was chaos, “ she laughed. “It was really nice to be back for just a couple days, but it was such a quick trip. Yeah, I rarely go back there, but it’s such a nice welcome when I do. I sometimes forget how ‑‑ I don’t know what I mean to the sport there and in general. It was nice to have that sort of reception back in my home country and see a lot of fans.

“I mean, the event that we had for Sugarpova was incredibly successful. It blows my mind way every time I see that type of reception because I consider myself quite normal and not so recognizable at times. When I’m there it’s a whole different ballgame.


Li Na

Li Na

Later came Li Na. As per usual, even the most formulaic and standard questions were transformed by the 2011 French Open champion into charming and entertaining retorts. However, the most interesting answer from the Chinese number one came when she decided to discuss her much-publicized collaboration with Justine Henin’s former coach, Carlos Rodriguez.


“Actually I was feeling pretty good from beginning of the year until now. I was training so hard with Carlos. Yeah, he didn’t come with me in Stuttgart, so when I was here, so many people just ask me, ‘Are you still working with Carlos?’ I said, ‘Of course.’’’


‘’So, yeah, he will be come here. I mean, I was, how you say, so happy he can come to my team to coach me. I think for me, he’s not only tennis coach. I think after I was working with him I feel much stronger in my mind and also much stronger on the court.


Later on, the main draws were conducted in the public plaza beside the courts. The ladies were first, with top-seeded Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka drawn into the same half as Sharapova was granted a significantly easier prospective route to the final. The men’s draw came later as most fans began to plan their final exits. After long and tiring discussions about 5th-seeded Nadal’s prospective placement in the draws of the upcoming clay-court events, the Barcelona champion slotted inconspicuously into David Ferrer’s quarter.


And with that, a quiet and understated first day in Madrid concluded. Despite what the numerous advertising hoardings around the city may suggest, tomorrow the tournament shall truly begin.


Tumaini Carayol is in Madrid covering the Madrid tournament for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.

Madrid, Spain
May 4-12, 2013
Red Clay/Outdoors

Order Of Play – Saturday, May 4, 2013
Manolo Santana (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: García-López vs. Andreev
2. Camila Giorgi vs. Garbiñe Muguruza (NB 12.30hrs; Singles Q Final)
3. Sara Sorribes-Tormo vs. Alexandra Dulgheru (Singles Q Final)
4. Sloane Stephens vs. Daniela Hantuchova
5. Urszula Radwanska vs. Sara Errani (NB 19.00hrs)
6. Lourdes Domínguez Lino vs. Simona Halep

Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Riba vs. Donskoy
2. Yulia Putintseva vs. Aravane Rezai (Singles Q Final)
3. ATP: Sanjurjo Hermida vs. Haase
4. Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Laura Robson
5. Jankovic/Lucic-Baroni vs. Groenefeld/Peschke

Stadium 3 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Malisse vs. Muñoz-de la Nava
2. ATP: Ramírez Hidalgo vs. Rufin
3. Julia Goerges vs. Bojana Jovanovski
4. Sabine Lisicki vs. Sofia Arvidsson
5. Mona Barthel vs. Kirsten Flipkens

Pista 4 (from 11.00hrs)
1. María-Teresa Torró-Flor vs. Johanna Larsson (Singles Q Final)
2. Chanelle Scheepers vs. Melanie Oudin (NB 12.30hrs; Singles Q Final)
3. ATP: Falla vs. Souza

Pista 5 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Matosevic vs. González
2. ATP: Berlocq vs. Stakhovsky
3. ATP: Llodra vs. Kubot
4. ATP: Sijsling vs. Brugués-Davi

Pista 6 (from 11.00hrs)
1. ATP: Gómez-Herrera vs. Kamke
2. ATP: Sousa vs. Giraldo
3. ATP: Cipolla vs. Levine
4. ATP: Elias vs. Mathieu (NB 15.00hrs)

Pista 7 (from 11.00hrs)
1. Christina McHale vs. Mathilde Johansson (Singles Q Final)
2. Stefanie Voegele vs. Lesia Tsurenko (Singles Q Final)
3. Madison Keys vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (Singles Q Final)
4. Alizé Cornet vs. Kiki Bertens
5. Grandin/Uhlirova vs. Moulton-Levy/Rosolska


Serena Williams: “I don’t think that there is a big difference between the blue and the red (clay)”

Serena Williams made her 2012 debut on the European clay at the Mutua Madrid Open slamming 14 aces to complete  a 6-3, 6-1 demolition of Elena Vesnina on Monday morning. Vesnina was the losing finalist at the Budapest Grand Prix tournament over the weekend.

Despite the score, Williams was not pleased with her performance. “I’m feeling good but I wasn’t thrilled, “Williams said. “It’s just the first round, I would be thrilled if I get into the finals or something, this is just the first round and I don’t get a bye, so don’t be mistaken, I wasn’t thrilled it’s just that I haven’t sung karaoke for a long time and I have been missing it.”

“I was feeling good. It’s my first tournament in Europe this year and I just hope I can keep up the good form,”

Speaking on the topic of the tournament’s blue clay:

“I don’t think that there is a big difference between the blue and the red. I think it is the same except for the fact that it is a different color and that you don’t get as dirty, which I love. But I don’t find too many differences. There is definitely a difference between European clay and US clay.”

Williams will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in her next match.