Sixth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas won a battle of Spaniards on Friday when he defeated fellow southpaw Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2 to reach the last four at the ATP 250 on clay. Ramos-Vinolas now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head series. 6-5 and has won eight straight sets in their rivalry. “I think it’s always difficult to play against a player you know a lot. We’ve played a lot of times and it was a tough match,” Ramos-Vinolas said in his on-pitch interview. “I think I played very seriously from the beginning to the end and I am very happy because I beat a very good opponent.” The 34-year-old has won eight matches in a row in Estoril, with two of those wins coming against Verdasco. Ramos-Vinolas needed three sets to triumph in her first two matches this week, but the result was never in doubt against his compatriot. A year after defeating Verdaco 6-3, 6-3 in the Portuguese event, the four-time ATP Tour champion saved the only break point he faced and won 53 per cent of his first serve return points to control the match. Ramos-Vinolas will next play Intesa Sanpaolo 2021 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Sebastián Báez. Argentina’s Baez is looking for his second final of the season after coming from behind to defeat Richard Gasquet 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in one hour, 55 minutes, with the French veteran paying the price for putting up just 46 per cent of the first serves. After reaching the final of the Serbia Open, Novak Djokovic will enter the Madrid Open as the top seed. Having gotten some match-practice over the last few weeks, we could see the World No. 1 do better than he did at Monte-Carlo.
Mark Knowles reflects on Djokovic
Former doubles World No. 1 Mark Knowles has stated that we could see a different Novak Djokovic during the French Open. “I maybe wasn’t as surprised in Monte-Carlo that he didn’t have enough in the tank to withstand Davidovich Fokina. I just felt that maybe by Belgrade, couple more weeks, getting used to matches, even though he did have some tough matches as we know, throughout the week, I was just surprised to see him go away physically in that third set.” Knowles also said that he is not writing off the 34-year-old and that we could see a different version of him during Roland Garros. “I’m not discounting Novak Djokovic, that’s for sure, I know we’re going to see an entirely different one, when it comes to, maybe before the French, but definitely during the French, we’re going to see a different Novak Djokovic.”