It’s been touching to see so many tennis players, both past and present, pay their respect to Elena Baltacha. You can keep donating to Rally4Bally HERE. The money is being donated 50:50 to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity and Elena’s tennis academy. I’m sure you will agree, both very worthy causes. The amount raised has nearly trebled since this morning to well over £9,000, which is lovely to see. Madrid held a one minute silence before Monday’s night session with some of the WTA and ATP players coming out onto Manolo Santana Court. The tennis keeps going on, but we will never forget Elena.
1. Dominic Thiem v Stanislas Wawrinka (ATP Madrid, R2)
Tuesday’s most intriguing match will see one of the most promising ATP talents take on the number one player in the race this year. At the beginning of 2014, Dominic Thiem was ranked at 139. In four months, he has shot up nearly 70 places to world number 70 and should continue rising over the course of 2014. Thiem has done most of his hard work in qualifying this year; he has entered eight qualifying draws for ATP tour events and qualified for seven of them, only missing out in Acapulco. He first came to my attention when he pushed Andy Murray to three sets in Rotterdam. Thiem has continued to show a great deal of promise with seven top 50 wins, the best of those coming in Indian Wells when he defeated Gilles Simon in straight sets in the second round of Indian Wells. His most recent of those top 50 wins came in the first round of Barcelona with a 6-4 6-2 win over Dmitry Tursunov.
If you don’t already, Dominic Thiem is definitely worth a follow on Facebook. He goes into such intricate detail about every one of his matches. In Barcelona he lost a heartbreaker to Santiago Giraldo, having had match points for a first ATP quarter-final place. He said afterwards that the loss showed he wasn’t yet ready to be an ATP tour quarter-finalist. For the first time this year, Thiem will play a top five player in Stanislas Wawrinka. The Swiss man is coming off winning Monte-Carlo a few weeks ago, a clear indication that he will be a contender for Roland Garros. This will be Thiem’s most high profile match. I expect him to shine, but not enough to create the upset win.
Prediction: Wawrinka d. Thiem in 2 tight sets
2. Garbine Muguruza v Sam Stosur (WTA Madrid, R2)
Since Australia where ironically, she has had her best results this year, Sam Stosur has been struggling for form. In Oeiras, she lost 6-4 6-0 to Timea Bacsinszky, which was very surprising. Perhaps she went into her first round match with Dominika Cibulkova as the underdog. However she had never lost to Domi in three previous matches and this is a horrid match-up for the Slovakian. I was surprised by the scoreline though as Stosur won 6-4 6-0. Sam served two double faults in the first game and quickly went 0-3 down, before really finding her game and allowing Cibulkova just nine points in the second set.
Stosur now takes on Garbine Muguruza, who made such a big impression in Australia, winning Hobart and beating Kaia Kanepi and Caroline Wozniacki in reaching the last 16 in Melbourne. She made the final in Florianopolis where she was one game from securing her second title of the year. However she suffered a rather monumental collapse, going on to lose that final to Klara Zakopalova and her next three matches. In Marrakech, she turned it around, winning three matches and making the semi-finals. In the first round of Madrid, she had another confidence boosting win over Silvia Soler-Espinosa, coming through in a third set tiebreak in 2 hours and 55 minutes.
I think Stosur’s win over Cibulkova was impressive although she’s always going to have great chances in that match-up, particularly on clay where she can use her kick serve to great effect. Against Muguruza, Stosur is likely to have a much tougher match. I’m still not quite convinced by Sam yet and Muguruza will have home support (although for Sam, that’s not exactly a positive!). I’m going Garbine…
Prediction: Muguruza d. Stosur in 3 sets
3. Francesca Schiavone v Sara Errani (WTA Madrid, R2)
It’s quite surprising that Francesca Schiavone and Sara Errani have only ever played once before on the WTA tour. Their one match actually came in Madrid with Schiavone prevailing in three sets. Since that match, the pair have endured contrasting fortunes. Errani has risen deep into the world’s top ten although she does now find herself at number 11. She remains a force on the clay though as she demonstrated with a 7-5 6-1 victory over Andrea Petkovic in the first round. Schiavone has reached the pinnacle of her career, winning Roland Garros in 2010 and backing that up with a final appearance in 2011. To be honest, I am surprised she is still playing, but if she’s still enjoying it, then why not? Her victory over Elena Vesnina on Sunday was arguably, her best win of the year. It was only the third of her 2014 season, but she worked incredibly hard for it coming through in a three hour and 9 minute epic. This should be a classic clay court tussle and Errani will be the clear favourite.
Prediction: Errani d. Schiavone in 2 sets
WTA Madrid 2nd Round Predictions
Li Na d. Zheng Jie in 2 sets
Maria Sharapova d. Christina McHale in 2 sets
Petra Kvitova d. Varvara Lepchenko in 2 sets
Lucie Safarova d. Magdalena Rybarikova in 2 tight sets
Sloane Stephens d. Petra Cetkovska in 3 sets
ATP Madrid 2nd Round Predictions
David Ferrer d. Albert Ramos in 2 sets
Fernando Verdasco d. Roberto Bautista-Agut in 3 sets
Kei Nishikori d. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in 2 tight sets
Milos Raonic d. Jeremy Chardy in 2 very tight sets