10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Route to Roland Garros Weekend Wrap: Osaka and Pliskova Falter in Madrid as Ramos-Vinolas and Basilashvili Lift Trophies in Estoril, Munich – 10sBalls

Jennifer Brady of the US in action during her match against Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 02 May 2021. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTINEZ

By Thomas Cluck

It was a busy weekend on the dirt of the European clay-court swing in spring as championship Sunday gave way to trophy lifts in Estoril and Munich while the behemoth in the Magic Box, the Mutua Madrid Open, saw action heat up even more in the Spanish capital with some sizzling tennis and scintillating upsets.

In arguably the match of the day in Portugal at the Millenium Estoril Open, veteran Spanish lefty Albert Ramos-Vinolas, somewhat of a clay-court specialist, took the title in a hard-fought, dramatic three-set battle over a fellow lefty, Brit Cam Norrie, a former TCU Horned Frog, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. Ramos-Vinolas, in typical Spanish fashion, out-grinded the very tough out of Norrie, denying the young Englishman his first ATP Tour title on Sunday afternoon. 

At the other ATP 250 stop this week in Bavaria, it was the home big-serving German player Jan-Lennard Struff who was denied in Munich by the hard-hitting Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 7-6 to win the BMW Open and the keys to a pretty sick new ride as well. 

Back here in Madrid at the Caja Magica, WTA matches continued to play out as second-round action was underway while the first of the men’s first-round matches took to the court as well in Spain. The headline item came from recent Australian Open champion and four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka of Japan crashing out in just her second match to tricky Czech Karolina Muchova’s mix of different spins, pace, and variety, falling 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. While the best player in the world in the women’s game on hard courts, Osaka is still very much a work in progress on clay and grass, not having played at all on the dirt last year and still very much trying to attune her game to the slower speed, higher bounce, and different movement the clay requires, leaving the world number two a bit of a mystery going into the French Open, the second major of the season.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in action during her match against Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 02 May 2021. EPA-EFE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ

Big-hitting Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took out the sixth-seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, whose big serve couldn’t save her today falling 6-0, 7-5, another disappointing result for a player who has continued to backslide in recent years. 

In other results today, two-time major winner and former world number one Victoria Azarenka was forced to withdraw with a lower back injury she picked up earlier this year in Doha to give fast-rising American Jessica Pegula a walkover while another surging American, Jennifer Brady, the former UCLA Bruin, routed 2017 Roland Garros winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-1 in just over 60 minutes. Greek Maria Sakkari cruised past powerful Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-1 while huge-hitting Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka was too much for the craftiness of Russia’s Daria Kasatkina, winning easily 6-3, 6-3 to wrap up the day.