One week before the Madrid Masters and the tennis world continues its tour around the clay courts of Europe. From Estoril to Munich via Belgrade, tennis balls have been flying in all directions this week. The big winner was Juan Martin Del Potro, who confirmed that he’s in rude good health with victory at Estoril, beating the Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the final.
Estoril, Del Potro’s reign continues…
To go two years without reaching a final is a long time in tennis, Richard Gasquet knows it all-too-well. So he made the most of his week in Portugal, taking more than 3 hours to see off Albert Ramos (2-6, 7-6 , 7-5) in his semi-final, before going down in the final to Juan Martin Del Potro – the giant Argentine defeated the “Mozart” of French tennis in straight sets (6-4 6-2). Despite a strong start, Gasquet found himself wanting when the heat was on and could only watch as games slipped away from him. With his victory, Del Potro becomes only the third man, after Albert Montanes (2009/10) and Thomas Muster (1995/96) to claim back-to-back titles on the Estoril clay.
Richard Gasquet is back to being a true tennis player. For proof, look to the highlights of his straight sets quarter-final victory over the Spaniard Munoz-De La Nava. That famous one-handed backhand down the line is still as sharp as ever.
Belgrade: Seppi wins at a canter
Benoît Paire, world number 96 and revelation at this year’s Serbia Open, went down heavily in the final against Andreas Seppi. Likely overcome by the pressure, the young Frenchman, playing in his first ATP tour final, didn’t get a look in against the groundstrokes of the Italian N°1. The final was a brief affair and, despite having served 31 aces up to the final, Paire could did not impress - Seppi easily sent the Frenchman serve on his way to a 6-3, 6-2 victory.
Tweet of the week
Serena Williams has a brutal forehand, the mental strength of a superhero and a string of titles to her name. However, the American also has some rather eccentric tastes. On Sunday she showed the twittosphere her choice of…carpet. To each his own…
"Serena Williams @serenawilliams
Carpet shopping. I've decided on this one".
Munich – Philipp Kohlschrieber is the boss
We would have liked a Tommy Haas victory in Munich following an exceptional run to the semi-final (beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Marcos Baghdatis en route). However, against the power of Marin Cilic the German went down in two sets (6-3, 6-4). For the Croat it meant his first final in 2012, which was also true for his opponent, another German, Philipp Kohlschreiber. In this clash of the titans, it was Kohlschreiber who imposed his will on the court, running out winner in straight sets (7-6 , 6-3) and taking his head-to-head record to 4-3 against the young Croat.
In the wake of his barbs, many other players have followed suit
" My opinion, it's a mistake. You are in the middle of the clay court season, and the clay here in Europe is red. Madrid is the only tournament you are playing at high altitude, and then now you are putting a different colour of clay. Madrid is big enough not to need this promotion. The history of the clay court season is on red, not blue. I only speak my mind for the good of the tour and the players, so that we have a clay tournament with few problems. There is always a chance of playing worse here.”
Straight from the mouth of Rafael Nadal about the new colour of the clay (blue) at the Madrid Masters. In the wake of his barbs, many other players have followed suit (Novak Djokovic, Gilles Simon), although the tournament director, Ion Tiriac, has not, for the moment, returned fire.
Estoril, Kanepi on the comeback trail
Victorious in Brisbane at the start of the season, the Estonian Kaia Kanepi suffered a nasty injury to her shoulder soon after. For months the blond Baltic has had to trade in her racket for the physio’s table and took the opportunity to split from her coach. It was thus with itchy feet that the Tallinn native rejoined the tour in Estoril and she left Portugal with the title safely tucked away in her pocket. Although she needed nearly 2h40 to finally overcome a battling Suarez Navarro, she of the devastating one-handed backhand (3-6, 7-6 , 6-4)
64, 66 and 67: The rankings of the only Belgians in the ATP top 100. Xavier Malisse, Olivier Rochus and Steve Darcis find themselves separated by the proverbial hair’s breadth (750 points for Malisse, 730 for Darcis). For a country barely able to constitute a government, at least the sportsman stick together.
Budapest: Errani hoovers up another title
Following her victories in Acapulco and Barcelona, Sara Errani continues to harvest tournament wins, extending her run on clay to 15 straight victories and taking the Budapest Grand Prix crown, with victory in a hard-fought but run-of-the-mill final over Elena Vesnina of Russia. The Italian is fast becoming a good outside bet for the French Open. In any case, her banker will certainly be over the moon, Erranihas just pocketed a cheque for €37 000 for this victory.
The number of German players in the ITA top 20. This is the first time Germany has been so well represented since 1988. The Frauen in question are Andrea Petkovic (n°12), Sabine Lisicki (n°13), Angelique Kerber (n°14) and Julia Görges (n°20)
By Mathieu Faure