The blockbuster match of the week between Juan Martin Del Potro and Rafael Nadal never lived up to the hype. In fact, it never even took the court as just hours before the encounter the oft-frail Del Potro withdrew citing a hip injury.
“I just think that I’m not in a good condition to play and I’m sorry for the tournament, for the people, for Rafa,” Del Potro said. “I want to play as soon as I can and it would be a very nice match for me to play today. I really feel sad for that. It’s a nice tournament, nice people here, nice fans but I can’t.”
The Argentine said he suffered the injury during Estoril last weekend, but gave it a go in Madrid. Now, after winning seven straight matches on the clay, he’ll head back to Buenos Aires in hopes of returning for the French Open. Let’s hope!
“Hopefully I will be ready to play Nice and the French Open and everything but my leg comes first and I want to be in good health,” added Del Potro who sounds keen on returning in 10 days for Nice (which is nice)!
As for Nadal, his “terrible” draw just got a whole lot easier. Tomorrow, Nadal will try to stretch his clay win streak to 36 against the aggressive Michael Llodra. And then he’ll be favored again on Saturday in a semifinal against either Robin Soderling or Roger Federer.
Robin and Roger collide for the first time on clay since Soderling stunned the Swiss at the French a year ago. That was Soderling’s lone win in now 16 meetings against the Fed. But this time both players come in ragged and not in the best of form. It’s a tough match to call but I might lean to Soderling to deliver the knockout punch.
Soderling also had a nice win today over JW Tsonga while Federer wasn’t that sharp in a straight set 6-4, 6-4 victory over Xavier Malisse.
In the bottom half of the draw, Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer will hook up tomorrow in a good one. Djokovic dominated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-1, 6-2 to improve his win streak to 31, 29 of which this season equaling Ivan Lendl’s longstanding mark of match wins to start a year.
Ferrer, who hasn’t quite been himself this week, eased passed Sergei Stakhovsky 6-3, 7-6. I like Djokovic tomorrow. Too much power, too much confidence.
“[My] confidence is obviously very high and at this stage it plays an important role in my game and I’m trying to use it to continue this winning streak,” said Djokovic. “I’m taking one match at a time, focusing on my next rival and that’s very important.”
In the other quarter, it’s a battle of Toms – Tomas Berdych against Thomas Bellucci. The lefty Bellucci pulled the upset of the day sending Andy Murray packing 6-4, 6-2. I commented last week wondering where the Brazilian had gone and almost on cue he’s back.
“Tonight’s match wasn’t great,” Murray said. “I don’t feel I played particularly well. I started the match okay but I didn´t really keep that up.”
“I had to be realistic this week. I was coming back from an injury that was that serious… an elbow injury is not easy for tennis players,” Murray added.
Berdych, meanwhile, quietly disposed of Juan Monaco.
In the women’s field, Julia Gorgeous Goerges (she should just change her name to that, it’s sticking) followed up her big Stuttgart win over Caroline Wozniacki by beating the World No. 1 again! Good for her. She’ll play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinals to start the day. American Bethanie Mattek-Sands had a career win upsetting French Open champ Francesca Schiavone. So who wants the women’s French Open crown? At this point who knows.
Matches are again on the Tennis Channel complemented by live online streaming via ESPN3.com.
MANOLO SANTANA start 11:45 am
J Goerges (GER) vs A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) – WTA
 V Azarenka (BLR) vs L Safarova (CZE) – WTA
Not Before 4:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs M Llodra (FRA) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 R Federer (SUI) vs  R Soderling (SWE) – ATP
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  N Djokovic (SRB) – ATP
ARANTXA SANCHEZ VICARIO start 1:30 pm
 T Berdych (CZE) vs T Bellucci (BRA) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 N Li (CHN) vs B Mattek-Sands (USA) – WTA
Not Before 6:00 PM
D Cibulkova (SVK) vs  P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA
 M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs  M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) – ATP
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