May 04, 2021

2021 Madrid Open ATP Round Two Matches (Tuesday Matches Only)

For some reason Madrid is having a select few round two matches tomorrow, so this is a very short article. The full round 2 ATP will go up tomorrow night once all the matchups are set.

Thiem vs Giron :

Pablo Andujar had a number of chances to put Giron away, but he just didn’t have a simple way to score points. The match played out as expected, with Andujar looking more competent and Giron’s forehand being the only way he really could score. He used it well though, having hit more than 25 winners already at just 5-5 in the first and this made it very stressful for Andujar when he started winning points against the serve in the tiebreaker. The second was more of the first, and the third was more of the second. These two both hit clean and didn’t let much get past them, but Giron won a few more miraculous points than Andujar, who enjoys tennis but is mostly well known for his ability to turn into a jaguar and communicate with eagles. I am sad to see him exit the tournament, but Giron really dug in and kept the ball in play here in a tough spot, so it’s good that he won.

Thiem took just over a month of from events and “journalists” jumped to pen different varieties of speculative articles assigning him all sorts of depression and burnout and career-ending injuries and evil spirit bones and complex hairgel deficiencies and other issues. He quite literally gave an interview, said he was taking time off to heal from a knee issue, and that he thought the time off would be good. He was candid enough to remind people that the tour players are not robots, and for some reason everyone took it as Thiem being in shambles. This is a kid who was assigned guaranteed injuries and whose career would suffer according to analysts when he released his tennis schedule for the year a while back and was playing more events than most people, and yet the sky is falling when he finally decides to take a month off and actually has a real physical injury. It must be so very strange for someone to give an interview where they tell people what’s going on and wake up in the morning to Mats Wilander speaking for them.

Anyway, Thiem returning is great for tennis, and it’ll be cool to see where his physical ability and timing are. Giron isn’t the player you’d expect to beat Thiem, but lack of matches can lead to slow starts, and Thiem is a big enough business that his team would certainly condone returning to tour with a measured plan to ease back into it. Minute restrictions in the NBA are similar to returns from injury in tennis. Sometimes players are not 100% ready to play and so they just don’t. Giron’s speed is great, and he’s consistent enough that Thiem will have to do a good bit of work in order to win. Makes it a great return. If Thiem is at all ready to play, he wins this in 2. If he’s really taken a full month off of tennis, Giron will be very competitive though.

Harris vs De Minaur :

Lloyd Harris grabbed a good first round win against Dimitrov. It was a pretty good level of play, and he’ll be somewhat happy to be playing De Minaur instead of Munar. The De Minaur that started the match against Munar was not the one that finished it though. Halfway through the second set Alex started to really find his range on the dropshot, and played a number of unplayable balls at just the right time. He managed to get his inside out forehand going very well, and Munar started to move a bit too early to the next ball which left him very susceptible to changes in direction and pace. Harris has a puncher’s chance here, but De Minaur will probably continue his solid play and I think the eventual pressure will net him some errors. De Minaur in 3.

Rublev vs Paul :

Andrey Rublev is a kitten on steroids. He is a ferocious precocious nugget of Street Fighter noises. His current tennis strategy looks like he’s pretending he’s in the movie Speed and the bomb will explode if he moves more than 6 inches behind the baseline during a rally. In one of the strangest developments on tour in a while Rublev entered the tour just trying to return every single ball harder than it was hit at him, and after 2-3 seasons of middling results, he finally was able to do it. Tommy Paul played great in the first round, and is a guy whose offense makes him a threat in most matches, but it’s hard to even imagine a situation where he beats Rublev. Andrey deserves all the accolades, because he is quietly one of the hardest workers on tour. If there is one criticism of him possible, it is that he does not give us what we want and go as a giant broccoli for Halloween. That is probably the only actual criticism of his game I can think of, and even movement issues that I thought would keep him as a tiebreaker at best sorta player at the top tier have disappeared as his returning improved. This should be fun to watch, and the bookies spread of 5 games is probably too much, but that’s how good Rublev has been this year. Rublev in 2.

Shapovalov vs Bublik :

I’m a bit surprised at this line. Bublik played some very efficient and motivated tennis in the first round. He got low on his backhand, and served great. Fucsovics provided some highlight reel reactions, but beating a great defender like him in two means Bublik is around his top level. Strange then for Shapovalov to be a two to one favorite. The market is certainly bigger (books look to balance money and shapovalov will see more investment than Bublik), but I would expect the books to be a bit more protective against Bublik given Shap’s recent ability to lose matches he’s expected to win. Shapovalov was pretty dedicated in his opener against Lajovic though. He pushed the pace continuously and although he got some lucky bounces, it was a good sign for him to be pressing in such an early round. This should be a serving battle, but Shapovalov’s returning and movement also give him a tad more opportunities to win such matches. Bublik will need to take great care of his serve and be a bit of an opportunist, but if he’s able to frustrate Shapovalov by winning a set he possibly doesn’t deserve then he might disrupt his focus long enough to get a lead and get across the finish line. This entire section is so non-committal, but both players are wildly unreliable. Shapovalov in 3.

Fognini vs Berretini :

Matteo Berretini is coming off a title run in which he became a legendary pokemon by beating Aslan Karatsev. Fognini is coming out of a match he seemed to dominate yet barely won. Taberner played solid throughout. He hits a very hard backhand and forehand, and unfortunately this played into Fognini’s strengths for stretches of the match. Fognini’s backhand was always struck a bit harder, and his forehand was able to find clean winners where Taberner’s mostly just applied pressure. The second set saw Fognini talking to the physio over and over yet he never received a medical timeout. During this period he walked gingerly, and missed shots that were overly ambitious and almost made it look like he was looking for an early exit. It was just the usual Fognini fog though, and in the third he was able to win by a break.

Fognini won their only previous meeting, a straight set victory on clay in Rome. I wouldn’t go too crazy with a match from 2017 though, because levels can change a lot in a few years. In fact, Berretini’s level two weeks ago is light years away from his play a week before that. That’s a solid reason really that Fognini is not really worth backing either. Predictions are fun, but if there’s no outcome that wouldn’t surprise you, you really don’t have a position. I think Fognini’s impatience will bite him if Berretini is able to serve well, so that is the real issue. Fognini tends to play to the level of his opponent, or not play at all while sassily stomping around the court. Berretini coming off a title run should be at his best, and with the altitude his forehand will have a good zip on it all week. Berretini in 2.