Today was my first full day onsite at the 2015 Mutua Madrid Open and I had two goals: watch some tennis and find the darn media center! Honestly, the day started a bit rough. Having not slept at all, I still had issues finding my way around the site and poor Tumaini was trying to help me via Twitter but I spotted some guys with camera equipment so together we found our way. And then, naturally, I set up shop in the photographer’s media center before I realized the print media center was upstairs a level. I mean, I’m really showing my intelligence in Madrid!
Thankfully, the media center team was most helpful and I had a wander around with photog Chris Levy so I know where the pressers will be and where the awesome WTA team are based. These things are important especially when you’re trying to run back and forth from matches to pressers, and you need to be able to request players ahead of time for interviews. Anyway, lots of organization done today!
My helplessness wasn’t over yet, as it’s so confusing inside the Magic Box. Thankfully one of the media center staff nicely took me up to where the media section is inside Manolo Santana Stadium. I wanted to hug her. What great seats! Honestly, I’ve been in media sections at a lot of tourneys but these are primo seats IN THE SHADE. As someone who’s not very sun tolerant it’s heaven to be able to sit it shade and watch live tennis.
I love all things WTA so I pretty much watched the ladies all day today since the men were in the qualies stages and none of the matches really sang out to me. So I saw:
- Casey Dellacqua vs Francesca Schiavone
- Ekaterina Makarova vs Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Ana Ivanovic vs Alexandra Dulgheru
- Sloane Stephens vs Bethanie Mattek-Sands
- Madison Keys vs Kaia Kanepi
A few thoughts from what these matches:
- Sveta looked great. I know that Makarova isn’t much of a clay player, but the 2009 French Open champ looked solid. She knows how to play on clay and although Makarova was missing a lot, Sveta gave me hope. Which is probably silly. She’ll next face Garbine Muguruza or María-Teresa Torro-Flor. If she plays Garbine that could be FUN.
- Sloane Stephens is having a good 2015. I watched a lot of Sloane’s matches in Indian Wells, and she’s still impressing me. Much better composure and fewer wild shots coming off her racket. I’m always impressed by her power but she’s really simply hitting the ball better. Poor Bethanie tho – she won the first set (which I missed) and then seemed to run out of gas a bit. Someone near me thought she might be injured as she was letting a few balls go. I was initially sitting behind her husband Justin and he’s fun to watch as he’s quite animated. After the match, Bethanie just sat in her chair looking so sad. Sports are tough. Sloane will face Serena Williams (!) or Madison Brengle in the second round.
- Madison Keys. Now, Kaia Kanepi is no easy opponent, but man Keys just fell apart in this match. It was sad to see – she started well but seemed to get frustrated that she couldn’t get a break in that first set. I think she first slapped her leg in anger when she was up 4-3 and made a few errors when returning. At 4-4, she got broken and then for the next three games Keys didn’t win a point. She was just oozing errors, particularly off her forehand side. It was hard to watch – a few times Keys had tears in her eyes – she just looked so frustrated out there. This match seemed consistent with the Jankovic match in Indian Wells in that she just hits patches when she can’t keep the ball in the court. In the final game tonight when Keys served to stay in the match down 6-4, 5-3, she hit three shots into the net to go down triple match point. She saved one but Kanepi won in just 63 minutes and she’ll get Kerber or Stosur next (seriously this draw!)
I’m sad that no one offsite could watch any of these matches due to no streams, but thankful that some amazing first round matches can be seen tomorrow. I mean, check out this lineup on Manolo Santana Stadium alone: Sharapova/Bacsinszky, Halep/Cornet, Monoco/Almagro, Serena/Brengle then VIKA/VENUS. And then there are so many other potentially awesome matches on the other courts like Petkovic/Pennetta and Bouchard/Strycova and Stosur/Kerber. Just look at the OOP here. I want to be everywhere tomorrow!
The men’s qualies wrap up tomorrow alongside all WTA main draw matches. It’s going to be a big day plus it’s ATP media day so lots to juggle.
In addition to watching some or all of the matches above, I spent a bit of time on the back courts where most fans seemed to be. Rafa Nadal was practicing when I arrived, and not long after that Maria Sharapova showed up to practice adjacent to him. I got this fun pic of the two defending champs mere feet apart. I didn’t notice them speaking, but I wasn’t always able to see due to all the people.
On the other side of the practice area, David Ferrer was hitting with Fernando Verdasco and Petra Kvitova practiced with Caroline Wozniacki. It was all a bit too much happening all at once but that’s early days of a tourney for you!
It’s Saturday night in Madrid, but after being onsite all day and barely eating, I opted for ramen noodles and Coke Zero for dinner. It’s a hard life being a tennis fan. There are no tapas and sangria in my days but I only have an appetite for tennis anyway.