That period after the first major of the year is always one where players look to continue their good, begin their season or in the ladies case represent their country.
Cordoba, Montpellier and Pune were the destinations for men this week except for Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal who played an exhibition in Cape Town where as for the Ladies eight Fed Cup ties were played in three continents with a bid to qualify for the Fed Cup Finals in April.
What caught my eye this week?
Denis was a menace in Paris and recently Sydney but his form has dramatically dipped since.
Denis Shapovalov showed us at the back end of 2019 what he is about with a run to the finals of the Masters 1000 event in Paris. The Canadian brought some of his best tennis out to begin his season a few thousand miles away in Sydney.
The 20 year old as an integral part of the Canadian ATP Cup squad which made it to the quarter finals including some wins against Tsitsipas and Zverev in straight sets whilst falling in three to De Minaur and Djokovic despite leading by a set.
I wrote about how in New York and in Paris we saw Denis’ game come together and with Mikhail Youzhny in his team now but things have gone astray.
Denis now has one win in four matches which was against fellow Canadian Vasek Pospisil who he just lost to in the first round of Montpellier.
Despite saying that his game has come together it can be erratic and lacking composure which is what we have seen. The defeated to Marton Fucsovics at the Australian Open was disappointing and the errors were ridiculous.
The defeat against Pospisil in Montpellier was probably the worst of them all, there just wasn’t a challenge from his side of the court. It doesn’t get easier for the Canadian who is seeded once again in Rotterdam next week but is up against Grigor Dimitrov who really needs the win as well.
Fed Cup Weekend
The weekend spread across three continents has really given us something to talk about. We now know our 12 teams for the April Finals in Hungary and they are:
Czech Republic (wildcard)
Australia (2019 finalist)
France (2019 winner)
Hungary (host nation
Some of the main talking points from the weekend included:
Bianca Andreescu & Eugenie Bouchard missing for Canada despite being the squad. Bouchard withdrew hours before her match and Andreescu hasn’t appeared.
Naomi Osaka was the main headline for Japan who crashed out to Spain. Naomi lost the first match of the tie 6-0 6-3 to Sorribo-Torres but didn’t play at all on Day 2.
Serena Williams extended her run to 14-0 in Fed Cup singles matches with a 7-6 7-6 win over Jelena Ostapenko as the USA booked their place in the finals.
Belinda Bencic knew a win against Annie Leylah Fernandez would be enough to secure the tie for Switzerland but fellow 2-6 6-7 to the 17 year old but Switzerland did go onto qualify.
Victoria Azarenka was another player set to kickoff her season in Fed Cup being nominated for the team but didn’t feature. The Belarusian slipped off the team sheet and wasn’t scheduled to play any matches with no reason as to why.
Federer & Nadal raise over $3.5 million in Match in Africa!
In the sixth Match in Africa raising money for those living in poverty over $3.5 million was raised as Nadal and Federer put on a exhibition with 51,954 people in attendance.
The two superstars were joined alongside Trevor Noah and Bill Gates at one point for a doubles match and had fun down in Cape Town raising money for a very good cause.
Federer won the singles battle with Nadal and the good friends embraced a hug at the end of a special night.
We know Grigor Dimitrov has the game but finding consistency is still the key for the Bulgarian who was once No.3
The time where Grigor Dimitrov was number three in the world and a former ATP Finals champion does seem like a long way away.
Just the back of last year he made a good run to the semi-finals of US Open beating Federer and semi-finals of Paris as his ranking went from top 20 to outside the top 70 and finishing back in the top 20.
3 wins and 3 defeats are the story of the season so far for the Bulgarian who does make life difficult for himself. We know what he wants to do on a court but implementing this is a problem.
If he can get his serve returned short and he can step into that inside-out forehand he can pick his corner but concentration and maybe a lack of disguise makes it a less tougher challenge to play against.
This year two of his three defeats have been to players outside the top 80 (Tommy Paul and Gregoire Barrere) but Grigor is rarely bullied off the court it is in close matches. It must come down to confidence, this is a bad run for him and it does need a level head. I think playing Shapovalov in the first round of Rotterdam is a big help for him as it does take the pressure off as you could argue his opponent needs the win more.
Just for the argument of inconsistency and confidence, Grigor Dimitrov in main draw matches since the beginning of last year has won just 9 of 17 matches against players ranked outside the top 70.
Is Rafa a fan of Neil Diamonds Sweet Caroline?
The world number two brought some of his best tennis to Cape Town and also got involved in a sing-along before his next service game
Cuevas wins unusual point against Garin
Pablo Cuevas did go home against Cristian Garin but was the winner of the most unusual point of 2020.
Garin’s return as you can see was going miles wide but the post brought it back into play. It did bounce on Garin’s side so the point went to Cuevas but if luck was against the Uruguayan and it bounced on the other side it would have been Garin’s point.
Form shouldn’t be a worry right now for Felix Auger-Aliassime who is still finding his feet in the top 50 but needs to find a bite in matches!
19 year old Felix Auger-Aliassime has found consistency a problem for a while now. It is easy to forget he is only 19 and has been top 25 since the end of May last year.
Results haven’t done his way of late and I’ve spoken about in the past his game and the options he has but he does need to find a bite.
If you look at the performances and results, it is nice tennis but nice tennis doesn’t win big matches. He has lost four of his six tie-breaks and there have been some matches especially in ATP Cup which have been one-sided.
For someone who has been around 20 in the world for 7/8 months I would expect more consistency in matches but his record since the beginning of last year against top 50 opponents is 16 wins and 18 defeats.
He is only 19 after all but it will be interesting to see what happens this year. I see those similar aged players pushing on to do things and he has that question over him as well now.
He opens up his week in Rotterdam against Jan-Lennard Struff who he lost to 1-6 4-6 in ATP Cup a month ago so it will be a big ask. Felix has great control through his forehand and backhand but a bit more power/bite would help take more of a lead in matches.
A fun week of tennis in Montpellier as ever. Gael Monfils made sure a Frenchman was in the final for the 16th consecutive win and it was the Frenchman who got the win 7-5 6-3 over a resurgent Vasek Pospisil.
Jiri Vesely picked up his second career title this week, The Czech number one won 7-6 5-7 6-3 against Egor Gerasimov to pick up his first title of 2020.
Round-up of the final will follow as event doesn’t begin until gone 7pm UK time. Diego Schwartzman will take on Cristian Garin in the final
Daniil Medvedev is the top seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas is the second seed. Both open up their week with a tough task. Daniil will be up against Vasek Pospisil who is in good form and Stefanos is up against the inform Hubert Hurkacz.
The impressive Andrey Rublev is also in having won two titles this year, Karen Khachanov is unseeded and faces Fabio Fognini in round one. Dimitrov and Shapovalov will also meet and wildcard Jannik Sinner has Radu Albot in round one.
Belinda Bencic leads the line down in Russia. Belinda is one of five top 20 players taking part in the Premier event. Kiki Bertens, Petra Kvitova, Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova are the others.
Russian players Daria Kasatkina and Svetlana Kuznetsova pick up wildcards for the home event where there is no Maria Sharapova who is once again nursing her shoulder issue.
Diego Schwartzman was top seed in Cordoba and will be in Buenos Aires this week.
We don’t know why but Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini have both withdrawn from the clay event in Argentina. Borna Coric needs some wins and is in the draw as is the impressive Norweigan, Casper Ruud!
In New York it is business as usual. John Isner leads the line of tall players which includes Milos Raonic, Reilly Opelka and Kevin Anderson.
British players Cam Norrie and Kyle Edmund are also seeded and there is a wildcard for Jack Sock.
In Hua Hin, Thailand the top seed and only top 10 player is Elina Svitolina. Elina opens up against Bibiane Schoofs in round one before potentially playing Eugenie Bouchard if she is fit after Fed Cup withdrawal.
Pieces from the week
Here are some pieces from the week;