Nadal, Barcelone 2017

Rafa Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev on the men’s side, Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Kristina Mladenovic on the women’s side have dominated the clay court season; while world number ones Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber appeared in big trouble. Here’s our recap of who won what.

Men

Marrakech: Borna Coric

Runner-up in Marrakech last year, Borna Coric came back from the brink, saved 5 match points to overcome Philip Kohlschreiber and capture his maiden ATP title.

Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal

Rafa‘s reign in Monte Carlo continues: he defeated fellow Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas, who stunned Andy Murray en route to his maiden Masters 1000 final. With that victory, Nadal became the first man in the Open Era to win 10 titles at a tournament, and the first to win 50 clay-court titless, surpassing Guillermo Vilas (49).


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Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Winner in Budapest last Sunday, Lucas Pouille made his entry to the top 15. He’ll be one of the few French players to follow at Roland Garros later this month, where he will wear adidas new performance line.

Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Lucas Pouille Roland Garros outfit

Source: adidas

Follow our Roland Garros 2017 coverage on Tennis Buzz.

Angelique Kerber, winner of the 2016 US Open
The good

Stan Wawrinka: there’s a new champ in New York. The Swiss struggled to get past the first rounds, losing a few sets here and there and saving a match point in the third round. But he stepped up in the semifinals against Nishikori and outplayed Djokovic in the final. 3 Grand Slam finals, 3 titles.

Stan ✅ Stanimal ✅ Stan the Man ✅ And now #usopen Champion ✅ (📸: @dcarrollphoto)

Une photo publiée par @usopen le

Karolina Pliskova: before this tournament, she had not passed the third round in her 17 previous Grand Slams appearances. She took down Venus Williams and top-seeded Serena Williams to reach her first Grand Slam final.

Caroline Wozniacki: she’s two years younger than Kerber but it seems she’s been on the circuit for ever. She beat Svetlana Kuznetsova and Madison Keys en route to the semifinals.

“I came into this tournament ranked No. 74 in the world and probably people ruled me out, but it’s nice to prove people wrong once again.”

Lucas Pouille: he reached the quarterfinals after 5-sets marathon wins over Chiudinelli, Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal. He seems to be the only French player to have both the game and the attitude. A player to watch out next year.

Laura Siegemund and Mate Pavic: they had never met before this tournament. They teamed up to win the mixed doubles title defeating CoCo Vandeweghe and Rajeev Ram in the final.

“It’s really kind of a blind date.”

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares: they joined forces at the beginning of the season and won 2 Slam titles (the Australian and US Opens) since then.

The bad

Garbine Muguruza: the French Open champion was knocked out of the tournament by Anastasija Sevastova in the second round.

“Today was just very difficult. Everything I was trying to do she was coming back and doing incredible shots.”

Aga Radwanska: overpowered by 18-year old Ana Konjuh in the quarterfinals. The question is no more “when will she win her maiden Slam” but rather “will she ever win a Slam”.

Andy Murray: beaten by Nishikori in a bizarre match, he seemed mentally tired. He’ll now focus on the Davis Cup semifinals against Argentina.

“I tried my best. I fought as hard as I could with what I had. I didn’t let anyone down — certainly not myself. I pushed myself as hard as I could over the last few months, and I’m very proud of how I have done.”

Milos Raonic: a shock defeat to qualifier Ryan Harrison in the second round. His explanation: cramps due to nervousness, (nervous to play Ryan Harrison?).

Marin Cilic: the 2014 champion looked like a title contender again but surprisingly fell to Jack Sock in the third round.

Gaël Monfils: what on earth was he doing against Novak Djokovic? Not sure he knows it himself. What a waste of talent.

Bernard Tomic: nothing to add.

The queen

She started the year ranked number 10 with a large defeat to Victoria Azarenka in the final of the Brisbane tournament. A couple weeks later she stunned Azarenka and Serena to win the Australian Open.
Fast forward 8 months Angelique Kerber is now the new number one and took home a second Slam trophy.
Is it the beginning of a new era for women’s tennis?

First selfie + 🏆😍! Thank you for your overwhelming support ❤#teamangie #nyc🗽 #usopen2016

Une photo publiée par Angelique Kerber (@angie.kerber) le

Photo credit: Satoshi Tsuboi

Gael Monfils, 2016 US Open

Lucas Pouille‘s US Open campaign came to an end with a straight sets loss to Gaël Monfils in the quarterfinals. With three 5-sets win over Chiudinelli, Bautista Agut and Rafael Nadal, the 22 year old Frenchman showed great physical and mental resources and he’s without a doubt a player to watch in the years to come.

As for Monfils, he’ll play Novak Djokovic on Friday in what looks like the most important match of his career.

Lucas Pouille

Lucas Pouille

Lucas Pouille
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Milos Raonic, Australian Open 2016

Lucas Pouille’s coach Emmanuel Planque talks about the Canadian’s improved game.

Interview by l’Equipe, translation by Tennis Buzz

“Apart from Djoko, I don’t see anyone who can beat him here.” I told you that just after the match against Lucas (Pouille). I was a bit stunned after the match. I re-watched the match several times and the impression remained. OK, I wasn’t excited by the way Lucas started each set… but Milos gave us nothing. That guy doesn’t even give you the time of day. Right now, I find him fit. We’ve been talking about him as a future Grand Slam winner for two years now. Like Dimitrov? Yes and no. I’m sure Dimitrov will come back. But he’s less impressive and not prepared as well as Raonic. He has less weapons.

He’s really confident with his serve. In Brisbane and Melbourne, he was hitting second serves at 220, 224 and even 226 km/h. At some point you don’t know how to return them: if you step back, he hits a kick serve that bounces really high; if you move forward to cut the trajectory, he hits a 220km/h bullet. The average first serve speed is often mentioned as a way to judge a server, but don’t forget the second serve. He put power in it but it doesn’t mean that many more double faults. That’s tied to his current confidence and the fact that he hasn’t played the top two best returners yet, Murray and Djoko, who can bother him. The idea is to make him run so he’ll serve between 160 and 180 km/h. Because if he serves at 130, he’ll be more accurate, more coordinated, more relaxed. But it’s hard to make him run much when he’ll try and shorten the point quickly.

He has improved his game considerably. Mainly because he doesn’t have any physical problems. Last year, he had to undergo surgery to repair pinched nerve in his foot. Good health means more intensity at practice. You can tell he has worked on his returns. He’s much more consistent. Before he could miss a few second serve returns in a row. Today, he puts you continuously under pressure without taking any risks. He returns hard in the middle, that allows him to take a lot of second shots with his forehand. And then it’s difficult to escape. Facing him, you get tense and you lose 10 to 15 km/h on your serve. I think Milos has assimilated the fact that the best players in the world aren’t the best servers. His goal is to get a ratio of quality of serve/quality of return that is much better than the others’.

He’s part of a very strong project. To me, he’s not a Canadian at all. He’s a Yugo (born in Podgorica, Raonic lived in Montenegro until he was eight). He reminds me of Djoko with his ambition and application. Raonic is straightforward, intelligent, a worker. The guy could easily have been an engineer. Now he’s a tennis player, that’s his job. He’s not emotional, he’s rational. He works on his mechanics. Ljubicic (now Federer’s coach) helped with his serve and second shot. Ljubicic leaves and Raonic takes Moya, who’ll help him with his returns and bring him the deep parts of the game. And above all he has Piatti (former coach of Ljubicic and Gasquet) who is a great coach and who is doing a hell of a job with him.

Would it hurt tennis if Raonic became number one? I don’t agree with that kind of pessimism. I hear some people say Raonic is bland, isn’t sexy, he’s boring … No! Sure, tennis of tomorrow will be guys 1.95m tall moving like guys 1.75 tall and who can return too. Can these critics affect Raonic? I feel he’s there to win. The rest …

Novak Djokovic, Bercy Masters 2015

I spent a few days in Paris last week for the BNP Paribas Masters, the ninth and final Masters 1000 event of the season. Novak Djokovic captured the title, dispatching Andy Murray 6-2 6-4 in the final. Enjoy my pictures and recaps of day 1 to day 4.