We have some first round ATP matches in Rome but I will concentrate on the two finals from Madrid.
Madrid Women’s Final, 15:30 – Sharapova v Halep
Halep had two excellent wins in the quarter and semi finals. Ivanovic has been in superb recent form but just couldn’t cope with Halep’s power and momentum. Kvitova put up more of a fight in the semi final and took the first set in a tie break but Halep always looked like coming out on top after that.
Sharapova hasn’t had an easy route to the final. McHale was a set and 4-1 up in round 2 and Li Na battered her in the opening set of their quarter final. She was able to dig deep every time and turn the matches around.
They have played twice before but both were in 2012 and that’s before Halep’s huge improvement. She was ranked at 49 and 50 for those matches. Not surprisingly Sharapova won both of them.
In the semi final the Sharapova serve wasn’t put under too much pressure by Radwanska but we have to expect that not to be the case today. Sharapova’s serve is fine if the returns aren’t being thumped back at her. If playing a power returner doubts come into her mind and that’s when the errors creep in.
Since her rise to the top Halep has an excellent record against top 10 opposition and has won her last 7 finals. She has a strong chance of taking this one too but will need a below par performance from Sharapova. I will be surprised if Halep doesn’t take a set.
Madrid Men’s Final, 18:00 – Nadal v Nishikori
Nishikori won the title in Barcelona and here he is in the final of the next tournament. Just when is his body going to quit on him? He had treatment before his third set with Ferrer last night. He played a very good deciding set but Ferrer has several chances to get his nose in front.
Nadal went out at the quarter final stages of both Barcelona and Monte Carlo. Not what we have come to expect from the King of Clay. This week he has looked more like his old self and he hasn’t dropped a set in his 4 matches.
Nishikori took Nadal to 3 sets in their first meeting. That was on the grass of Eastbourne in 2008. Since then he has lost all 5 of their matches in straight sets. He did take Nadal to two tie breaks at the Australian Open in January.
I would love a bigger price on Nadal but with Nishikori clearly having issues with his back and in his second consecutive final I just don’t think he has it in him to push Nadal for more than a set.