Catch up on an ATP Tuesday from the Caja Magica with Part II of our day’s recap! After looking the first few matches of the day, TTI recaps the second slate of encounters of the Mutua Madrid Open.
It wasn’t a great afternoon for last weekend’s champions on the ATP circuit as both Nicolas Almagro and Philipp Kohlschreiber suffered first round defeats 48 hours after recording their first titles of 2016. While the Spanish Estoril winner went out in straight sets at the hands of Borna Coric, Kohlschreiber lost by the tightest of margins again Pablo Cuevas and admitted that the quick turnaround didn’t help matters.
“[There was] certainly not a lot of time but tried to make the most of it,” he said, after the 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) defeat. “[I] didn’t expect to show up in my best form, I fought, I actually played pretty well for large patches of the match but it was pretty difficult cause the conditions are fairly difficult compared to Munich because it was pretty cold in Munich and I’ve basically come from sunshine to snow.”
“I’ve got to give him credit for playing well — last week I won a close one against him in a tiebreak; today I lost a close one, I can’t really blame myself too much considering I only had half a day of preparation and I played someone who is ranked around 25 in the world and who’s really good on clay — [there was] just not enough time to prepare.”
For Grigor Dimitrov, it almost felt as if he was still licking his wounds after a rather…unglorious end to the Istanbul final where he lost to Diego Schwartzmann after demolishing pretty much every racket he had left — leading to three code violations and a game penalty costing him the last game of the match. The Bulgarian went out at the hands of Spanish wildcard Pablo Carreño Busta, 7-6(3), 6-3.
“Yeah, the past days have been rough, but in a way I’m happy that this just is behind me now,” he said. “It just passed like a little storm. I felt a little bit like a kite in a perfect storm, so to speak, you know. It felt all right, you know, so…it’s in the past, and only thing I can do is just put a smile on my face and be happy for what I do. I’m healthy [with] a lot of tournaments ahead — just get on with the positivity and keep up the good work.”
One of the happiest people of the day was certainly Juan Martin Del Potro, who took out the No. 14 seed, Dominic Thiem, 7-6(5), 6-3. After his win, the tall Argentine sat down in his chair — clearly overcome with emotion after getting one of his best wins since returning to tour.
“First of all, being in a competition like this, for me, it’s a lot of merit,” he said. “If I’m able to win matches, even better — even more emotional. That’s why sometimes it’s difficult to handle the emotions, but I think that today I have a lot of joy. I’m very happy. It’s because some great things are happening to me right now. I wasn’t crying because I had to leave or because my wrist were hurting or anything. I was just very happy about it.”
A little later, Rafael Nadal had a fairly smooth opening to his Madrid campaign. The four-time winner of the Masters 1000 event in the capital of his home country took out Andrey Kuznetsov, 6-3, 6-3 and was understandably happy to continue his upward trend of the past couple of weeks — and particularly with his service performance today.
“The serve is — depending on which tournament, it’s not so decisive, but in this tournament it is,” he said. “Whoever serves well here is going to do well. I think I have been solid with my serve. I have to try to keep the percentage up. During the previous training sessions, I also served well. This is important to have options to do good. I’m happy…and hope I’ll be able to continue.”
In the battle of two of the ATP Tour’s more extravagant characters, Fabio Fognini recorded a straight-set win over Bernard Tomic, 6-2, 6-4. The result is in line with both players’ fairly different records on clay — even though the Italian is still on the rebound from a two-month injury timeout during Indian Wells and Miami.
“I start to feel good again after two months without playing,” he said. “[I’m] happy for sure because — it’s not his surface for sure but he’s Top 20 in the world. At the moment I feel fine, still working really hard, a lot more than before — because when you stop two months and you’re coming back you have to work double than before for sure. I’m happy to be in the second round to play against a great player like [Kei] Nishikori next and I will try to do my best.”
For Tomic, it was another year with an early exit in Madrid on a surface for which he doesn’t have a particular fondness.
“He played very good today,” he said. “I was very surprised the way he played — we played similar last time in Paris; I played very well myself — that’s why I won — now, he played too good. I didn’t have any chance to get the momentum; he had one of those days when he really plays well.”
In fact, Tomic was so surprised that he forgot which end to hold his racket by at the end of the match.