This Week In Tennis
1:00 First, we went to see Beyonce!
8:30 Rafa's withdrawal
14:20 Varvara Lepchenko serves a silent ban for failed drug test
17:30 #SeeWhatHadHappenedWas: Cornet is far too much
24:00 Andy Murray's split with Mauresmo & his 5-set matches
27:30 Serena's snapchat & the Williams Invitational
34:45 You say zebra, I say hideous
39:00 Raonic hires John McEnroe
46:15 Stacked doubles draws
48:45 Breaking down the women's Round of 16
53:30 Venus def. Cornet in 3rd round, sans drama
59:30 Bacsinszky, Kuznetsova, Muguruza, Stosur, etc.
1:04:00 We share our dream finalists
1:05:00 Men's Round of 16: Djokovic, Thiem, Stan, Nishikori, Gasquet, Murray
1:11:00 Dream men's finalists
Episode brought to you by Racquet Magazine
Episode 44 of The Body Serve Tennis Podcast
1:30 Honoring Roger Federer's streak of 65 straight majors
4:45 Is Rafa's draw "shockingly horrible," as James thinks?
7:00 We can agree, though, that Novak's is a cakewalk
11:30 Debating the merits of playing the week before a major
15:30 Men's bottom half: wtf
25:00 Our chat with Caitlin Thompson
30:00 Previewing Racquet Magazine & why you should be as excited as we are!
50:30 How to subscribe, donate, and get some awesome gifts
54:15 Previewing the women's draw - starting with Serena, as always
57:00 Is Azarenka really the second favorite?
1:00:00 Checking in with Venus, Timea, Kerber, Madison
1:06:15 Women's bottom half: your guess is as good as mine
This Week In Tennis
Click here for the WTA French Open preview.
SEEDS (Click to see the full men's draw)
(1) Novak Djokovic
Best Result: F - 2012, 2014, 2015
2016 Clay Results: 2R - Monte Carlo, W - Madrid, F - Rome
Like many of the greats, Djokovic holds three of the four majors; McEnroe, Connors, Lendl, Wilander, Edberg, and Sampras all retired missing one piece of the career Grand Slam puzzle. The French Open has been Djokovic's bugaboo since 2012 when he lost his first Roland Garros final to Nadal. In his fifth attempt to complete the career Slam, Djokovic enters this year's event the dominant player on the ATP Tour for a second year running. Will he be able to get out of his own way and overcome the near misses of French Opens past? The mental question might be the one most pressing for the world #1 in Paris, one he will likely have to tackle against Nadal in the semifinals.
(2) Andy Murray
Best Result: SF - 2011, 2014, 2015
2016 Clay Results: SF - Monte Carlo, F - Madrid, W - Rome
Murray has molded himself into one of the more accomplished clay court players on the ATP Tour. For much of his career, Murray's results on the dirt paled in comparison to his output on the other surfaces; that is no longer the case. Three of his five titles over the last 17 months have come on clay, and Murray enters this tournament fresh off a finals win over Djokovic in Rome. If he can summon his best aggressive tennis over the next fortnight, Murray might join Djokovic in the three-out-of-four club.
(3) Stan Wawrinka
Best Result: W - 2015
2016 Clay Results: QF - Monte Carlo, 2R - Madrid, R16 - Rome, Geneva
The mercurial defending champion enters Roland Garros after an underwhelming European clay season. His title one year ago came after reaching only one semifinal in his four lead-up events, so his lack of success means very little for his title hopes this time around. Considering his prodigious talent, Wawrinka remains one of the few players who can beat anybody on any given day.
(4) Rafael Nadal
Best Result: W - 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
2016 Clay Results: W - Monte Carlo, W - Barcelona, SF - Madrid, QF - Rome
What a difference a year makes. Nadal enters this French Open with the kind of form and confidence that he sorely missed in 2015. He won Monte Carlo and Barcelona for the ninth time each to start the European clay court season, matching his nine titles at Roland Garros. He ended his lead-up to the year's second Slam with a riveting two-set loss to Djokovic in Rome. While ultimately yet another loss to Djokovic, Nadal speaks of a renewed confidence and good feelings about his game. While not at his best level of tennis yet, it may not be too far away. All eyes will be on his potential semifinal match-up with Djokovic.
This Week In Tennis
Clickhere for the ATP French Open preview.
SEEDS (Click for the full women's draw)
(1) Serena Williams
Best Result: W - 2002, 2013, 2015
2016 Clay Results: W - Rome
What can be said about Serena Williams at this point that hasn't already been said? Her title last week in Rome was yet another reminder that she is the best the WTA has to offer and you should bet against her at your own peril.
(2) Agnieszka Radwanska
Best Result: QF - 2013
2016 Clay Results: SF - Stuttgart, 1R - Madrid
The French Open has not been kind to Radwanska historically. In nine attempts, she's made it to the fourth round only four times, and only once has she made it as far as the quarterfinals. Last week, she wrote a piece for The Straits Times documenting her struggles on clay, the causes, and the efforts she's made to overcome them. After losing her opener in Madrid, she opted to skip Rome to work on her clay court game. We shall see if her efforts pay off in Paris.
(3) Angelique Kerber
Best Result: QF - 2012
2016 Clay Results: W- Stuttgart, 1R - Madrid, 2R - Rome
The Australian Open champion backed up her stellar start to the year with a title run in Stuttgart. However, she enters Roland Garros with underwhelming results in Madrid and Rome, before withdrawing from Nurnberg citing shoulder trouble. Still, she's now a very big name in women's tennis and one to watch regardless of form. She's drawn in the top half with Serena Williams and could face Madison Keys in the fourth round and Timea Bacsinszky in the quarterfinals.
(4) Garbine Muguruza
Best Result: QF - 2014, 2015
2016 Clay Results: QF - Stuttgart, 2R - Madrid, SF - Rome
Muguruza has been the presumptive next best on the WTA Tour for a couple years, and now boasts a #4 ranking to justify the hype. Buyukakcay and Kuznetsova lurk in her section before she might have to square off against Kvitova in the quarterfinals, the final stop for her in Paris the last two years. If she is healthy, and able to build off a semifinal showing in Rome last week, the draw sets up nicely for her to go at least one round further this time around.
This Week In Tennis
Volume 19 of #ThisWeekInTennis will get you caught up on all the newsworthy events, tweets, press quotes, ranking movers, tennis writing, and podcasts from the Italian Open.
Let's get started!
- Serena Williams, absent from the WTA Tour since Miami and playing her first clay event of the year, sped through the Rome draw without losing a set. Her fourth title in Rome was also the 70th of her career.
- Madison Keys made a surprise run to the finals before losing in straight sets to Serena. Among her victims: Petkovic, Kvitova, Babos, Strycova, and Muguruza.
- Irina-Camelia Begu defeated Azarenka and Kasatkina en route to the semifinals in Rome. She jumps seven spots in the new WTA rankings to #28, three spots away from her career high at #25.
- Garbine Muguruza, short on good results in 2016, reached the semifinals. Prior to Rome, the world #4 had made only one quarterfinal and sported a 12-8 record on the season.
- You might recall that Kimiko Date-Krumm underwent knee surgery earlier this year. The news prompted speculation that Date-Krumm, now 45, might be forced into retirement. It appears that speculation might have been premature.
- Eugenie Bouchard ousted Jelena Jankovic as well as #2 seed Angelique Kerber before managing just one game against Barbora Strycova in the third round.
- Misaki Doi reaches a new career high ranking at #38 after making the quarterfinals.
- Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza won their fifth doubles title of 2016. The pair hadn't won a tournament since the first week of February, prompting talk of a "slump." After reaching the finals in their two previous outings, SanTina appear fully back on track.
- Flavia Pennetta was a prominent figure in tennis headlines despite being retired since the end of the 2015 season. The Italian Open honoured her with a moving farewell ceremony, then she returned to the WTA top 10 at week's end despite not having played a match all year.
Episode 43 of The Body Serve Tennis Podcast
All told, Pennetta won 11 WTA singles titles, including Indian Wells in 2014. She also reached at least the quarterfinals in seven Grand Slam singles events. Between 2004 and 2009, Pennetta made the finals in six consecutive appearances in Acapulco, winning twice. Pennetta currently holds the #13 ranking on the WTA Tour despite not having played a match since the WTA Tour Finals last October.
This Week In Tennis
As usual, #ThisWeekInTennis will recap the major happenings on both tours, bringing you all the newsworthy events, tweets, press quotes, tennis writings, and podcasts.
Let's get started!
- Novak Djokovic won Madrid for his fifth title of 2016 and improved his win-loss record to 33-2. His two losses came via retirement in Dubai against Feliciano Lopez and to Jiri Vesely in Monte Carlo. Djokovic's Madrid win, coupled with Nadal's pair of titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, bode well for a blockbuster Roland Garros in two weeks.
- Andy Murray came within a set of defending his title in Madrid. After a straight sets win over Nadal in the semis, a repeat of last year's final, Murray again lost to Djokovic in a high stakes event. Their head-to-head is now 23-9 in favour of Djokovic who has won 12 of their last 13 matches.
- Meanwhile, Murray and Amélie Mauresmo have announced the end of their coaching relationship.
- Kei Nishikori continued his consistent 2016 by reaching his seventh quarterfinal from eight events. His last three have been even more impressive: Madrid (SF), Barcelona (F), and Miami (F), losing only to Djokovic and Nadal.
- Nadal's win streak ended in Madrid. The resurgent Spaniard entered having won his two previous starts in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, but was unable to get a 14th consecutive tour win against Andy Murray in the semifinals.
- Tomic had a rough week in the press. He was lambasted for his non-attempt to return serve down match point in Madrid, then he retired from his opening match in Rome after ten minutes and three games against Benoit Paire.
- Do yourself a favour and follow Eric Butorac's blog and scour the internet for his writings for other tennis outlets.
- Serving at 4-2 in the third set of the Madrid final, Djokovic received a time violation warning from umpire Mo Lahyani. Murray interjected saying he had held up Djokovic five seconds prior when the Serb was ready to serve.
This Week In Tennis
- Lucie Šafářová found form in Prague on her way to taking the title. Last year's French Open finalist won her first singles match of the year before parlaying that into the seventh title of her career.
- Sam Stosur made her first final since July 2015 (W - Bad Gastein), but was unable to get past Šafářová in three sets.
- Timea Bacsinszky scored her fourth career WTA title in Rabat, and first ever on clay.
- Kuznetsova continued her stellar 2016 with a run to the Prague semifinals before conceding a walkover to Sam Stosur. The result pushes her up one spot in the WTA rankings to #12.
- Marina Erakovic made it through qualifying in Rabat all the way to the final. Ranked #186 at the start of the week, the former world # 39 is now within reach of a direct entry into the French Open with a new ranking of #128
- The top four seeds made the semifinals in Prague, the first time this has happened on the WTA Tour since Monterrey 2015.
- Check out the WTA version of the Spelling Bee for a few laughs.
- Madison Keys has (another) new coach.
- Serena Williams pulled out of Madrid citing illness, which means neither Williams sister will be participating this year.