Probably the biggest shock of the tennis year so far took place in Madrid on Thursday as Fernando Verdasco defeated Rafa Nadal on the blue clay to book a place in the quarter finals.
The Week So Far
The blue clay has not been going down well with the players this week, and following Rafa’s defeat to Verdasco on Thursday afternoon, the current World No.2 suggested he may not compete here next year if the slippery blue surface remains.
Despite the grumbling about the surface, we have seen some fantastic action here in Madrid so far this week. Novak Djokovic didn’t find it easy at all in his opening match against little known Spaniard, Gimeno-Traver, and there was cause for concern when the Serb lost the second set of the match 6-2. Novak did go on to win and then enjoyed a more comfortable encounter with Stanislaus Warwrinka to book himself a place in Friday’s quarter-finals.
Roger Federer has been looking on top of his clay court game this week and is always quick to adapt to challenging conditions. The Swiss did lose his opening set of the week to up and coming Canadian, Milos Raonic, but it has been smooth sailing since then and Richard Gasquet was easily put to the sword by the World No.3 in his following match.
Match of the week so far unfolded between Fernando Verdasco and Rafa Nadal.
A visibly disturbed Rafa just didn’t look like the same man who had come through with the loss of just four games to Davydenko a day earlier, as he lost control of the match in the first set. A 6-3 reversal in Nadal’s favour seemed to have got things back on track at the start of the third set and when he quickly raced into a 5-2 lead in the decider, it looked like Rafa had all but booked himself a spot in the last eight. It wasn’t to be though as Verdasco found levels of resolve and energy unseen from the Spaniard in many years, to pull himself back from the brink and take the set 7-5.
Elsewhere, Berdych and Del Potro have looked impressive in progressing to the last eight and neither man has lost a set so far. Dolgopolov is also having a great week in the Spanish Capital having ousted No.4 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga along with last week’s Belgrade winner, Andreas Seppi.
Despite the loss of tournament favourite Rafa Nadal, there is still a strong line-up for Friday’s Men’s quarter-finals and with Ferrer, Djokovic and Federer all competing in the same half of the draw, it’s tough calling who’s going to come through and win this event now.
Defending Champion, Novak Djokoivc should be able to come through his quarter-final match with fellow Serbian, Janko Tipsarevic, but he will then more than likely be faced with Roger Federer in an epic semi final showdown on Saturday afternoon. Federer meets Ferrer in the quarters and whilst Roger is clearly the favourite, Ferrer will know that the man who normally ousts him from all the clay courts events isn’t about this weekend, and whilst Federer and probably Djokovic still stand in his way, this could be the time for the World No.6.
In the other half of the draw you’d expect Berdych to have too much for Verdasco in the quarters, just a day after Fernando left everything on the court in his draining win over Nadal. And whilst Dolgopolov is certainly capable of giving Del Potro a tough match in the other quarter-final, the Argentinean is slowly moving back to his best and was a Champion in Estoril just last weekend.
So, we could see Berdych v Delpo and Federer v Djokovic in Saturday’s semis. If we do then it’s a tough call on the final line-up, but you would have to fancy the winner of the Federer v Djokovic match to go on and take the title on Sunday afternoon.
Meanwhile in the Women’s event, Williams, Sharapova and Azarenka look the likely names to be fighting for the title over the weekend. Lookout for Sharapova v Williams in Friday’s quarter-final and a possible Williams v Azarenka battle in the final.
Matches to watch this weekend:
Quarter-final: Novak Djokovic v Janko Tipsarevic
Quarter-final: Roger Federer v David Ferrer
Quarter-final: Thomas Berdych v Fernando Verdasco
Quarter-final: Juan Martin Del Potro v Alexandr Dolgopolov
Semi-final: Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
Semi-final: Thomas Berdych v Juan Martin Del Potro
Quarter-finals: Maria Sharapova v Serena Williams
Final: Victoria Azarenka v Serena Williams