Things pick up nicely Tuesday at the Madrid Tennis Masters. In action are Roger Federer, Fernando Verdsaco and David Nalbandian who plays Tomas Berdych.
All eyes will of course be on Federer. The Swiss is still the World No. 1 but has been playing Top 50 type of tennis following his Australian Open crown.
Federer’s five total wins since Melbourne are nearly balanced by four losses. But I think he’s going to add to that loss number a week from now. Fortunately for Federer and his fans I don’t think that loss will come on Tuesday to Benjamin Becker (he can’t lose to Benjamin Becker, could he??). It will come soon enough, however.
If you are anti-Federer you have to be feeling good. Roger has been playing sloppy, uninspired tennis of late and all signs are (again) pointing to an early exit in Madrid and another one in Paris in two weeks.
If you are among the Federer faithful, your charge has pulled this act before. A year ago he was struggling during the spring piling up poor performances at Indian Wells and Miami, but then found that fire with his Madrid title and course corrected his way through to Slam wins in Paris and Wimbledon.
Could it happen again? It could. Federer can’t play much worse that he is right now so maybe it’s only up from here. But it’s a real longshot.
For me, it comes down to just how interested and motivated Federer is at the non-Slam tournaments. He talks like he’s interested but his walk indicates something completely different.
And my guess is he won’t lose too much sleep when he does lose in Madrid. That’s just what it’s become. But I have to say he’s taking this “focus on the Slams” attitude to higher level by sleepwalking his way through the ATP events. We’ll again see if he can pay it off in Paris.
Also tomorrow Ernests Gulbis, who could meet Federer on Friday, takes on the guy who beat Roger and went on to win Estoril, Albert Montanes. I like the Latvian to win that one. Faster courts, altitude and Montanes is coming from a wet, slow Estoril court. The Spaniard’s in form and in his home country, but that puts the pressure on him. So I think Ernests gets through.
Nalbandian and Berdych is also another good match. Berdcyh was hot during the US hardcourts but has cooled off on the clay. I think Nalbandian could sneak out a win there.
The women’s event has had quite the shakeup already. Perhaps a sign of the times, the tournament suffered losses by Dinara Safina, Victoria Azarenka today to go along with losses by Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kuznetsova on Sunday.
But the Williams sisters both scraped through today. While Venus won in straight sets over Vera Zvonareva, Serena played an epic saving a matchpoint in her win over another Vera, Vera Dushevina, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the longest match of her career at 3 hours, 26 minutes. For a women’s match that is a very long time and I wouldn’t be surprised if that match took its toll down the road on Serena, similar to how that Djokovic-Nadal slugfest depleted both guys a year ago.
MANOLO SANTANA start 12:00
P Schnyder (SUI) vs  A Radwanska (POL) – WTA
Not Before 13:30
 S Stosur (AUS) vs M Martinez Sanchez (ESP) – WTA
Not Before 16:00
 R Federer (SUI) vs B Becker (GER) – ATP
Not Before 20:00
 F Verdasco (ESP) vs I Karlovic (CRO) – ATP
[WC] D Nalbandian (ARG) vs  T Berdych (CZE) – ATP
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 11:00 am
F Fognini (ITA) vs P Petzschner (GER) – ATP
Not Before 14:00
E Gulbis (LAT) vs A Montanes (ESP) – ATP
[WC] M Granollers (ESP) vs  S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP
 M Youzhny (RUS) vs L Lacko (SVK) – ATP
 D Safina (RUS) or [Q] K Zakopalova (CZE) vs A Rezai (FRA) – WTA
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