Cirstea, Murray Remain Unbeaten In #MMOPEN Virtual Pro

WASHINGTON, April 30, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Britain’s Andy Murray and surprising Sorana Cirstea of Romania continued their winning ways in the Mutua Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament on Wednesday. Each won their quarterfinal-round matches to reach Thursday’s semifinals.

Murray began play with a convincing 6-1 win over Alexander Zverev of Germany after jumping out to a 5-0 lead. He compiled an impressive stat line: seven aces, 20 winners, two-break points converted and 28-9 in total points – all in 12 minutes.

“Who’s the next victim,” Murray joked during his post-match interview. It turns out it will be Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, who advanced with a 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini of Italy. The other semifinal will match undefeated Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat David Ferrer 6-2, against David Goffin of Belgium, who was an easy 6-0 winner over Benoit Paire from France.

“I am just much better than the other guys,” said a happy but teasing Murray (4-0) after his quarterfinal win. “That’s just the reality.”

Meanwhile, Cirstea reached the semifinals with a dramatic tie-break win over Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, 7-6 (4). Next, she will face undefeated Fiona Ferro of Spain, who advanced over Donna Vekic of Croatia 7-6 (4).

“Every player is playing on the virtual game like in real life. It’s very interesting,” said Cirstea. “I was more nervous today than on usually court. Finally, I’m in my first Madrid semifinals!”

The other women’s semifinal will pair two undefeated players: Caroline Wozniacki from Denmark against Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands. Wozniacki needed just seven minutes to shutout Johanna Konta from Great Britain 6-0, while Bertens, who in reality won the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 6-4, the margin of victory being a break of serve in the ninth game.

“I’d never played on a PlayStation before so I had no idea how it was working,” said Bertens. “Once I received it I knew I had to practice. I felt also I had to because I have to defend my title, and I heard all the other girls were practicing.”

Thursday’s order of play includes both the men’s and women’s semifinal rounds followed later in the day by both finals.

What they’re saying

During a candid and enjoyable interview this week with Tennis Now’s Chris Oddo, No. 49 Iga Swiatek of Poland, who won the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ championship, shared her thoughts about life at age 18 as a pro tennis player during these strange times. Among the takeaways: “Actually I think for me it’s not that hard compared to other players because I still have school and I have something to do,” she said, describing her time in quarantine in her home country. “I have different goals in my life, not only regarding tennis, so right now I’m focusing on that. I’m finishing school actually next week and most of my time I’m just studying, that’s great because I’m not think about the whole situation and I’m not bored. I think my situation is better because of that.”

Behind The Racquet – Daniil Medvedev

World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev, who is coming off of his break-out year as pro, remembers that the toughest period for him coming up was the switch from juniors to pros. “I ended at 13 in the world in junior tennis,” Medvedev recently wrote in a first-person essay published in the Instagram series Behind The Racquet. “I started to quickly understand, after playing futures, just how difficult it would be to get from 700 to 300 in the world. You needed to save as much money as possible while trying to win five or six futures as quickly as possible. 

“At the time I was lost, didn’t now how to do that because there were so many other players trying to do the same thing. I remember talking to Bublik, playing a future third minutes away from where I lived in France. I was around 700 in the world and asked him, ‘How do you even become 300, it seems impossible?’ To this day he remembers that line and will joke when he sees me, ‘Come on, how did we become 300?!’ Even after reaching the top 100 for the first time, I knew deep down I wasn’t professional.”

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“There was always a little bit of a fight between my father and my mother. My mother wanted me to study more, which is why I was in school while playing tennis until I was 18. In Russia most professional athletes are done studying around 12 years old. It might have been the reason I wasn’t as good as my friends for some time, but I have no regrets. There were many tough times before the help from the federation and sponsors, when there wasn’t enough money. There were matches where I lost and all I was thinking about was the extra 100 dollars I could’ve made. The toughest period for me was the switch from juniors to pros. I ended at 13 in the world in junior tennis. I started to quickly understand, after playing futures, just how difficult it would be to get from 700 to 300 in the world. You needed to save as much money as possible while trying to win five or six futures as quickly as possible. At the time I was lost, didn’t know how to do that because there were so many other players trying to do the same thing. I remember talking to Bublik, playing a future thirty minutes away from where I lived in France. I was around 700 in the world and asked him, ‘How do you even become 300, it seems impossible?’ To this day he remembers that line and will joke when he sees me, ‘Come on, how did we become 300?!’ Even after reaching the top 100 for the first time, I knew deep down I wasn’t professional. When I was on court I would give 100%, but off the court I wouldn’t do the right things. I would go to bed late, play hours of PlayStation and just not worry about the small things. From 70 to top 5 in the world was the jump where I really decided to dedicate everything to tennis. I wanted to finally find my limits. I know people say there are none, but I want to test myself and find mine. That was the moment for me. I remember before that major jump where I would play one long match and I would lose the next day just because I couldn’t move. If you talk to anyone from juniors they would say I was one of the players in the worst shape, sometimes cramping after only thirty minutes…” Swipe 👉 pictures to continue reading @medwed33 story!

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What they’re writing

Simon Cambers, British freelance writer, from “Stars to stringers, lockdown trickling down through tennis world” for dpa.international.com. “In a normal year, Paul Skipp would currently be working from his stand at the Mutua Madrid Masters, the first of many big events he was due to attend as a racket stringer to the stars.

“Skipp, a self-employed Englishman, runs a small pro shop at a local tennis club in England and teaches people to string rackets, but the majority of his income is made from stringing at tournaments. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown across the world has hit tennis, as every sport, with all tournaments postponed or cancelled until at least August.

“While the stars of the sport like Roger Federer and Serena Williams will miss out on potential earnings, they have millions in the bank to fall back on.

“For others in the the game, like Skipp, the lack of tennis threatens their financial future, forcing them to rely on assistance from the British government.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Kristin Ahn, United States, currently ranked No. 96  / Making TikTok’s aren’t as easy as they look 

Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, currently ranked No. 3 / First bicycle ride in 15 years!

Novak Djokovic, Serbia, currently ranked No. 1 / Haircut at home