This Week In Tennis
Q. After the early exit in Monte-Carlo, how important is this victory for you, especially as the preparation for Roland Garros?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, came at the right time. I mean, I had an amazing opening four months of the season. Early exit in Monte-Carlo, but it happened for a reason, because I needed some time to really recharge my batteries.
Three weeks was more than enough to get some freshness and new breath, I would say, on the court and get ready for Madrid. I came here early, got used to the conditions, and played a really fantastic tournament that will definitely serve as a great confidence boost before Rome and of course French Open, where I want to arrive in a best possible shape.
Q. For years you have been winning Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome, are you calm when you step into Rome? You have a very good curriculum. I mean, if you don't have pressure.
RAFAEL NADAL: Well, when you feel happy you have less pressure. When you feel good you don't have so much pressure on you. We still have two tournaments on clay court this season, and I achieved more points than last year in all of the clay court season. So this is something that we've seen.
Also, the feeling that I have when I play in the court and the consistency that I'm showing and general level, it's superior compared to last year's.
Well, on these three tournaments I have been able to win two, and one making it to the semifinals, so the clay season is great. Let's try to continue this way or maybe try to put up the rhythm a little bit more.
Q. We keep seeing how you have improved on this surface. Do you feel the same, like since last year and even again this year there is major improvement on your side on this surface?
ANDY MURRAY: I just think I'm definitely moving better. That's for sure. It makes a huge difference. Like I said, on the other surfaces it's a massive strength of mine, a big part of my game, and for a number years I didn't move well on the clay.
It was a hindrance, and that makes you uncomfortable. If you took Ivo Karlovic's serve away he would feel uncomfortable going on the court. For me, take my movement away...
When I was having the problems with my back it was difficult for me when stepping on the court; whereas now my body feels great. I feel like I'm moving a lot better. So I'm not going on the court sort of a little bit nervous or apprehensive. I believe I can play well on clay now.
Q. With the French Open now just a fortnight away, where do you really rate your clay court chances of going a long way at Roland Garros?
KEI NISHIKORI: Well, yeah, I'm feeling really good on clay. I think today's match was much closer than Miami's final against Novak, so I'm, yeah, looking forward to play French.
Yeah, I think I been having good week. In Barcelona lost to Rafa close, and also today I saw some chance, too. So try to look up and I hope I have another good week next week. Hopefully I can do well in French.
- RISING: Federer (+1 to #2), Sousa (+5 to #30), Pouille (+6 to #52), Kudla (+5 to #56), Sela (+11 to #63), Istomin (+15 to #64), Mannarino (+8 to #72), Evans (+11 to #86), Krajinovic (+16 to #98).
- FALLING: Dimitrov (-7 to #35), Mayer (-7 to #49), Granollers (-5 to #58), Matthieu (-6 to #66), Bedene (-10 to #69), Donskoy (-11 to #79), Haase (-18 to #83), Chung (-13 to #95).
ON THE WEB
From a Dirt Court in Kabul to Westfield High, Ali Ebadi Chases his Tennis Dream
The Beef Bowl
The Delpo Effect
The Biofile: Eric Butorac
Dimitrov Reflects on Ugly Display in Istanbul, Explains Frustrated Mindset
Superstars in the Boardroom
Even Four Years Later, Bad Feelings Linger Over the Blue Clay in Madrid
Future Tennis Stars Train at Boarding Academy in Naples
- Simona Halep won her first title of the season in Madrid. After starting 2016 with a semifinal run in Sydney, Halep hadn't been past the quarterfinals in any tournament before last week. The former world #2 jumps two places to #5 in the new WTA rankings.
- It's been a long climb back up the WTA ranks for Dominika Cibulkova. The former top 10 player has now made three finals in 2016 (Acapulco, Katowice, and now Madrid), rising 12 spots to #26.
- Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic cannot lose these days on the WTA doubles circuit. The pair have made five finals in 2016, including titles in their last three events, all against the top seeds in finals. They beat Mattek-Sands/Safarova in Charleston before back-to-back wins against Hingis/Mirza in Stuttgart and Madrid.
- Sam Stosur a consistent force on the WTA? The 2011 U.S. Open champion follows up a finals run in Prague with a semifinal appearance in Madrid before losing to the eventual champion.
- Louisa Chirico made a massive jump in the WTA rankings (+54 to #76) following her run in Madrid. After earning a qualifier spot in the main draw, Chirico made it all the way to the semifinals before losing to Cibulkova.
- Taylor Townsend will make her third successive appearance at Roland Garros after earning a wild card.
- Ion Tiriac, following in the footsteps of Raymond Moore at Indian Wells, made a barrage of sexist comments about WTA players and equal prize money.
- Caroline Wozniacki falls out of the WTA top 30 for the first time since 2008. Even if Wozniacki is able to recover from injury in time to play at the French Open, her status as a presumptive seeded player is now in doubt.
Q. How rewarding and how happy are you with this win after so many setbacks, injuries, and so on?
SIMONA HALEP: Yeah, I'm really happy that I won this tournament. Like I said many times, it's very special, and I have a special feeling right now.
The most important thing is that I played good tennis here. My best actually, my best level. It was amazing on court. I just want to keep that feeling for long time.
Q. You had a tough start to the year in the first couple months. You feel this title coming or surprised you were able to get such a big title only a few months after the slow start?
SIMONA HALEP: I didn't expect actually before coming here that I'm going to win this title. But after first week when I practiced with Darren every day like I said, many hours on court, I felt that I have my chance.
Day by day I played better tennis. That helped me a lot to improve in myself, in in my mental, and to be more confident. I was feeling great. Nothing like injury or something like that. So everything was okay. That's why maybe I could win almost in two sets all the matches.
Q. What's next for you now for preparation for Roland Garros. Skipping Rome?
DOMINIKA CIBULKOVA: Actually I didn't get into Rome because there was my old ranking, 56 before I won Katowice, so I stayed last out and I withdraw from the quallies.
So I didn't -- I mean, I wouldn't play quallies for sure. Yeah, I'm going home. Flying home tomorrow. I going to take few days off and then to have good preparation for Roland Garros.
Q. First of all, I guess congratulations. Three titles in a row. Must be very happy.
CAROLINE GARCIA: Yeah, no, I mean, it's definitely great period for us. Three final, three title, and two times against No. 1 in the world, Martina and Sania, and once against Bethanie and Lucie. So it's only great matches every single time.
Very, very happy with what we produced on the court today.
Q. Obviously biggest final you've played so far and won. Is it disappointing and frustrating that it wasn't really broadcast and you couldn't see it unless you were here?
KRISTINA MLADENOVIC: Yeah, in a way it's very disappointing, because, I mean, you know, everybody around us is talking about how it's a dreamy final. You know, two weeks in a row we are challenging the world No. 1. It's Sania and Martina. They have huge careers.
Yeah, I totally agree. I think woman's doubles or woman's tennis is maybe not, how to say, that respected or broadcasted enough like would be -- I don't know if men's doubles is broadcast.
CAROLINE GARCIA: Every match.
KRISTINA MLADENOVIC: Every match. That's a little bit of a shame, because we both have family, friends cheering up for us at home. They would like to watch. Fans also, I guess, and it's not on.
CAROLINE GARCIA: And it's a mandatory tournament.
KRISTINA MLADENOVIC: That's a very big question, to be honest. We don't know. I don't know and don't have the answers why it doesn't work that way.
You know, we just try our hardest to make people enjoy it, love, it and maybe one day we will be able to make things turn around.
That's all we can do.
- RISING: Halep (+2 to #5), Bacsinszky (+5 to #10), Cibulkova (+12 to #26), Gavrilova (+7 to #32), Siegemund (+6 to #38), Lisicki (+6 to #44), Vesnina (+8 to #47), Lucic-Baroni (+7 to #67), Chirico (+54 to #76), Linette (+21 to #81), Cirstea (+28 to #99).
- FALLING: Kvitova (-3 to #9), Sharapova (-3 to #12), Kuznetsova (-7 to #19), Wozniacki (-4 to #31), Babos (-6 to #48), Lepchenko (-7 to #70), SaiSai (-11 to #82), Hsieh (-8 to #84), Sevastova (-8 to #94).
ON THE WEB
Champion's Corner: Halep
Kicking Up Some Dirt
All in with Alla: Student of the Game
Insider Q&A: Sorana Cirstea
The Gibbs of Gab: Go to College
Garcia, Mladenovic March to Marid Title
South Side Success
Serena and Venus Reunite for Doubles
No Challenges Remaining - "Episode 152: In Madrid with Timea Bacsinszky"
The Tennis Podcast -"This is the Year Novak Djokovic Wins the French Open"
Tennis Connected - "Reviewing Madrid & Looking Forward to Rome"
Realz Tenis Fanz - "Podcast #52?? Getting Down and Dirty"
Realz Tenis Fanz - "Miss Me in Madrid"
WTA Insider - "Halep Wins Madrid, Strycova Opens Up"