Juan Martin del Potro’s emotional win leads crazy Tuesday in Madrid

Nigel Owen/Action Plus/Icon Sportswire
Nigel Owen/Action Plus/Icon Sportswire

With Madrid being a combined event, the presence of both the ATP and the WTA means an abundance of storylines. Let’s rifle through a busy day in tennis.

  • Juan Martin del Potro scored by far the best win of his latest comeback from numerous wrist injuries by knocking out Dominic Thiem, 7-6 (5), 6-3. Though the match was more about Thiem’s fatigue, del Potro’s weakened backhand held up against Thiem’s heavy topspin. Thiem is the highest ranked opponent that del Potro has beaten since November 2013. After years lost to injury, the 2009 U.S. Open champion was understandably emotional:

  • Having already played 38 matches (currently eight more than any other player), Thiem’s schedule is catching up to him. It won’t get better either, as Madrid was just the second of seven consecutive tournaments for the 22 year old. Due to the rankings system, playing a ton of 250 events isn’t even boosting his ranking by much.
  • Thiem’s loss was Rafael Nadal’s gain. With Roger Federer injured and Thiem out, Nadal’s draw to the semifinals is wide open. Not that he needed the help though, as he remained red-hot in his opener against Andrey Kuznetsov:

  • A pair of combustible matchups lived up to the hype in their own weird way. Spastic Fabio Fognini beat too-cool-for-school Bernie Tomic, with Tomic basically tanking the last point…

…while Jack Sock outlasted Benoit Paire, who went full Kylo Ren during the match:

His outburst was so explosive that Timea Bacsinszky heard it on an adjacent court:

  • Ivo Karlovic lost to American Denis Kudla, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), leading to this insane stat:

  • Tuesday was so weird that defending champion Andy Murray hasn’t even been mentioned yet. He wasn’t great in his debut, needing three sets to beat 37 year old Radek Stepanek, though the 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-1 battle was more about Stepanek embracing the magnitude of the stage as he celebrates simply being on the court following his return from a serious neck injury.
  • 10 of the 16 women’s seeds were ousted before Tuesday, but the remaining favorites took care of business, as Simona Halep, Carla Suarez Navarro and Bacsinszky advanced. The only seed out was Lucie Safarova, who withdrew due to food poisoning.
  • Not be outdone, the WTA had a wonky match of its own. Dominika Cibulkova followed up her mild upset of top seed Aga Radwanska by coming back to beat Caroline Garcia. Known to struggle with pressure, Garcia let a 6-0, 3-0 lead slip as Cibulkova turned the tide. Garcia was not happy:

Huge storylines await on Wednesday:

  • After a couple weeks off, how will Novak Djokovic look after his loss in Monte-Carlo? He plays youngster Borna Coric in their highly anticipated first meeting.
  • Is Victoria Azarenka healthy? Azarenka admits to carrying an injury but is staying mum on specifics. She plays American teenager Louisa Chirico, who played fantastic in an upset over Ana Ivanovic.
  • Stan Wawrinka and Nick Kyrgios renew their odd “rivalry,” if one can even call it that. Their last two meetings have been ended by injury retirements.
  • Halep and Bacsinszky face off in the only WTA Round of 16 match featuring two seeded players. It’s a big match for Halep not just because Bacsinszky was the tougher competitor in their Miami meeting, but also because the door is open for Halep to get back to her winning ways.
  • A deep slate of men’s matches also features Sock/del Potro, Nishikori/Fognini and Monfils/Cuevas.

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