The 2nd Round is in the books for the men in Madrid, and 4 of the 3rd Round games were completed on a busy Tuesday, leaving 12 3rd Round matches to be completed. In some encouraging news for South African tennis, Kevin Anderson was competitive for the 1st set against Frenchman Gael Monfils, before running out of steam as he returns from serious injuries that kept him off court for several months. Argentine, Juan Martin Del Potro is in the same boat, and was far too good for Austrian prospect Thiem winning 7-5 6-3. He will meet American Jack Sock in an intriguing 3rd Round match for their first ever career meeting.
In an encouraging day for the local hopes, Rafael Nadal was fine in advancing to the Round of 16, beating Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-3 6-3. While Bautista Agut, Carreno Busta and Ramos-Vinolas all won through to the 3rd Round, with not so good news for Verdasco who lost his 3rd Round clash and Almagro who wasn’t competitive against Coric. Carreno Busta will be hopeful of a similar result in Round 3 as he faces Gilles Simon who he beat last week in Estoril in a comfortable QF win.
Pablo Cuevas had a barnstorming win against Munich champion last week Kohlschreiber, with a tiebreaker deciding the final set in his favour. Fabio Fognini proved way too good for Australian Bernard Tomic, who is out of sorts, following early exits in his last few tournaments now. Nick Kyrgios did Australia proud though with a fine win against Argentine Guido Pella 7-6 6-4. American Qualifier is the feel good story of the week, as he knocked experienced Croatian Ivo Karlovic out in 3 tough sets 6-7 7-6 7-6.
Murray and Raonic both struggled past their 3rd Round opponents in 3 set unexpected battles, with the Brit eventually prevailing against tour stalwart Radek Stepanek, and Milos overcoming Dolgopolov. Locals will look forward to Feliciano Lopez and Roberto Bautista Agut doing battle in Round 2; Lopez has a 2-0 advantage in their matchups, neither have been on clay though. Novak Djokovic will make his first appearance of the week against Coric of Croatia, for the first time.
Tsonga will meet Ramos-Vinolas with confidence after winning all 3 of their prior meetings, albeit never on clay; meanwhile Wawrinka will face Kyrgios who he holds a 2-1 career record against, again not on clay. This one is sure to be interesting with their off-court relationship, following immature sledging by the Aussie in previous match-play. Pablo Cuevas will meet Gael Monfils as two in-form players that have no luck in this draw; Nishikori’s first task of the week is experienced Italian Fognini, with Gasquet awaiting the winner. American Querrey will be wary of French youngster Pouille who is in fine form, after disposing of Belgian 12th seed Goffin.
Sousa and Granollers will meet in Round 2 and have a 1-1 history on clay, in another must see spectacle for the local crowds. While Berdych will look to kick start his tournament against Uzbek Qualifier Istomin, who he has beaten 4 times, with a perfect record. Ferrer will have his hands full as he takes on Kudla, after a tough 1st round win against countryman Garcia-Lopez. With near perfect conditions of 27 degrees Celsius and a gentle breeze with some cloud, it shapes up as a perfect day for spectators and players alike.
The final 8 2nd matches are complete and the 3rd round matchups set for the girls in beautiful Madrid conditions. Unfortunately, for spectators 2 of those matches were walkovers as Safarova and Italian Camila Giorgi withdrew from their respective matchups. Diminutive Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova had a fine 3 set win against the Flashy French girl Carolina Garcia, 0-6 6-3 6-4. While, Qualifiers Siegemund and Lucic-Baroni battled for over 2 hours with the German Siegemund prevailing.
In a more straight forward advancement, Romanian Sorana Cirstea beat Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, while compatriot Halep flogged Italian Karin Knapp 6-1 6-1. In the game of the day Rabat champion Bacsinszky of Switzerland beat Russian Makarova in a stunning 3 set match 6-4 5-7 6-4. Local favourite Carla Suarez-Navarro the 8th seed, accounted for German Sabine Lisicki comfortably on her preferred surface.
That leaves 16, with 8 mouth-watering matchups to decide the QF lineup, in a wide open tournament after so many upsets, and the change in women’s tennis, with the Sharapova issues, and the Williams so scarcely seen on tour. Russian Pavlyuchenkova will meet Cibulkova with a 2-2 history, with Dominika winning their only clay matcup in 3 sets. One of those 2 and either German Laura Siegemund or Romanian Cirstea will advance to a Semi Final, in what would be a career best week for all except the Slovakian. Azarenka and Kvitova look on track for a QF clash, to decide the other Semi Finalist from the top half of the draw.
In easily the biggest matchup of Round 3, Bacsinszky will meet Simona Halep for the first time on clay, with the Romanian leading their matchups 2-1. McHale and Begu will do battle for the right to meet the winner of those 2, with the American having won their only meeting before in USA on hard courts, giving us no real indication of this encounter. Suarez-Navarro will have her home crowd spurring her on against in-form Aussie Samantha Stosur who have a 3-3 record, but the Spaniard one their only clay-court matchup comfortably. American star Madison Keys will look to keep her good form, against little known Romanian Qualifier Tig, as they meet for the first time.